[UPDATE] VSU Student Struck by Train

By: Gabrielle Sarann Email
By: Gabrielle Sarann Email

[UPDATE] 2/10/2011 at 6:07 p.m. --

On August 13, police say 19-year-old James Elkins was struck by a train in the middle of the night.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has ruled Elkins' death an accident, saying no foul play is suspected.

But they say his blood alcohol content was 0.232. More than twice the legal limit.

Remerton Police say the case is still open, as they help bring closure to the Elkins' family.


A local college student is hit by a freight train and dies. Police say he was between the tracks around 2 a.m. Friday, when it happened.

VSU students who live behind the railroad tracks in Remerton, are trying to understand why James Elkins, 19, would lay by the tracks in the middle of the night.

"I don't understand what would make someone want to do that," said Robbie Hope, a junior at VSU. "If he was drunk or if he just decided he wanted to - I - that's completely unexplained."

Elkins was likely laying down, based on the trauma he suffered to his head and abdomen, according to Remerton Police Chief Mike Terrell.

He was pronounced dead just after 4 a.m. Friday.

Elkins, whom friends called "Jake," is from Cairo.

He had just started his third semester at VSU.

"We're still young," said Hope. "We still have our whole lives ahead of us. And then just to have it cut that short from something that--just is--tragic. It's horrible"

Neighbors along Wayland Drive, where Elkins lived, are stunned.

They're trying to make sense of this tragedy.

"When something happens like that with somebody, an accident, it's sad," said Colin Easterbrook, a student at VSU. "You step back and it's like 'Wow'. You don't really know how to react or how to take it at all."

Elkins' body was transported to a lab in Macon for an autopsy.

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  • by Kayla Location: Valdosta on Feb 18, 2011 at 09:03 AM
    I think that there is alot more to the story than has been told. I think he was put on the train tracks to cover up something. Someone knows what happen and if they were any kind of human they would come forward with that information, if it was their family they would want someone to do the right thing for them.
  • by JOJ on Feb 14, 2011 at 11:59 AM
    To Nikki, Just curious, how is it, if he was so drunk, did he fall so perfectly in between the railroad tracks and manage not to have any part of his body dismembered? And another thing, last I checked, he never had any problem with his hearing, so I'm thinking he would have heard a train that was in close proximity blow it's whistle if he had in fact fallen asleep as you suggested. And yes, it is very sad & God doesn't make mistakes. When it's your time God will call you home but that doesn't mean we should or will sit idly by when we know this was not an accident.
  • by A former teacher of Jake's Location: Thomasville on Feb 13, 2011 at 08:36 PM
    Here is my humble opinion: As a former teacher at Cairo High School, I find it hard to believe that Jake would want to take his own life. He was a very happy person, well-liked by everyone at school, black, white, rich, poor, etc. He was smart and athletic. The kind of kid that every parent would love to have. I sure hope that the truth comes out. I don't know his family really well, but I am sure that hateful comments don't help to ease the pain they continue to feel. I now live near a set of train tracks, and quite often when I hear the whistle of the train, I think about Jake on the tracks, and I am trying to replace that image in my mind with the one of him holding the state championship trophy at the Georgia Dome. I can't imagine how his family and close friends cope with their loss.
  • by Nikki Location: GA on Feb 12, 2011 at 10:31 PM
    It's sad and my heart go out to the family. I think he may have been so drunk that he may have fell and maybe went to sleep. I know someone who did that but his foot was cut off b/c his foot was across the track. It is very sad but remember God makes no mistakes.
  • by Hanna Ponder Location: Cairo, Ga on Feb 11, 2011 at 04:08 PM
    For Anonymous, the best thing for you to do is to keep your mouth shut. He did not want to take his life and for you to say something like that is awful. As for everyone else who has something stupid to say..SAVE IT, we dont want to hear anything unless you know who done it. You have no idea what kind of a person Jake Elkins was. He had a family, girlfriend, and friends that loved him very much. He was one of my best friends. When his life was taken by a low down person(s) who doesnt deserve to be drawing air right not, he took a little piece of all of us. He was the kind of person that would do anything for anyone. He was truly one of a kind. Jake Elkins was a star football player, golfer, and wrestler. He was also a star in the classroom. As for REMERTON POLICE DEPARTMENT, everyone of you need to arrest yourself, as far as I am concerned you are as much responsible as you done it. Learn how to do your job and solve this murder. Thank you very much!
  • by Dawn Location: Cairo on Feb 11, 2011 at 03:40 PM
    To Anon This is not as it may appear people don't have all the facts. Unless you have some information then I think you should not comment.
  • by anon Location: tallahassee on Feb 11, 2011 at 10:16 AM
    Sometimes things are just as they appear even though it's hard to accept.
  • by Patricia Location: Calvary on Feb 11, 2011 at 08:31 AM
    I am astonished that anyone would consider this good journalism, how can the GBI close the case and the Chief of the Remerton Police Dept. still have the case OPEN! Jake's body was sent to Macon to the crime lab and yes the toxicology report came from the GBI, AT NO TIME was there a GBI agent assigned to this case as Jake's mother found out when she call the GBI. The GBI assisted Chief Terrell in an advisory capacity ONLY! The case is open as Jake's parents have not been given any of his personal belongings, ie; cell phone. Jake was at Flip Flops with friends, pictures prove that, and would not have left this hang out alone, I walked it for myself (ten minutes at most) and to get to the tracks would have been out of his way. I will always believe Jake left with a friend or friends, met with foul play and his body was placed between the rails on the RR track. Why would you air such without first notifying the parents? Shame on you!!! Patricia Elkins, Jake's grandmother.
  • by jg on Feb 11, 2011 at 06:22 AM
    IT'S MURDER not an accident!!!!! They are saying that this has been ruled an accident and that there is no foul play BECAUSE the Remerton Police Dept. has screwed up the whole investigation!!! If they had of done their jobs like they should have done then we would have some evidence/DNA that would prove that someone else was involved. Right off the bat they assumed it was just a drunk college kid that fell on the tracks! They should have assumed that it was a homicide and gathered evidence right off the bat!!! Parents, if your kids go off to VSU, DO NOT let them live in the Remerton area. God forbid something happen and the Remerton Police have to get involved! Jake was an AWESOME young man! Like the preacher said.......he's the kind of guy you want your daughter to bring home. I love you and miss you every day Jake.
  • by Sad Location: Tallahassee, FL on Feb 10, 2011 at 04:09 PM
    Mr. and Ms. Elkin. I am so sorry for your loss. I did not know your son, nor do I know you. However, my cousin just lost his 19-year old son a little over a month ago. Although the circumstances were different from what I have read here, my cousin's son also was killed by a train. If you ever want to get in touch with her, let me know and I can give you her phone number. May God bless you.
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