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Police name girls killed by Amtrak train

Engineer says teens stepped onto tracks

By AMY HETZNER
ahetzner@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Nov. 13, 2005

Oak Creek - Two teenagers killed Saturday by a southbound Amtrak train were facing and possibly hugging each other before one made eye contact with the engineer and they stepped in front of the oncoming train, the train's engineer told investigators.

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Police identified the girls Sunday as Arielle A. Daniel, 17, and Heather Bates, 14, both of Oak Creek. They were students at Oak Creek High School.

Heather Bates' father, Don Bates, said he had been asked by police not to talk about details related to the investigation. But he said he doesn't believe suicide is a possibility.

"She was definitely happy, upbeat," said Bates, whose youngest daughter has been living with him since 2003, when she moved out of her mother's Racine home. "Before she was going (to high school), she was apprehensive. Once she got in, she absolutely loved it."

Bates said his daughter recently took up an interest in photography and always carried a camera. She also liked to write short stories and poetry.

"She has a lot of friends and she's going to be missed by a lot of people," Bates said.

One of those friends was Arielle, at whose apartment Bates stayed the night before she was killed on the train tracks adjacent to the apartment complex where Arielle and her mother had lived since September.

According to a report by the Milwaukee County medical examiner's office:

The two friends stayed up watching movies until about 1 a.m. Saturday morning. They woke up about 10 a.m., talked for a while, made plans to go to McDonald's later that day and told Arielle's mother they were going to take some pictures.

Arielle's mother, Kristin, told investigators that her daughter often took pictures of the sky, forests and fast-moving trains. She also said earlier this year that the Oak Creek Police Department was called because a couple of her daughter's friends had been videotaping and playing games with the trains.

Kristin Daniel told investigators her daughter received good grades, had her artwork hanging in the school and recently had a movie review published in her school paper.

The two girls were struck by an Amtrak train heading for Chicago about 11:10 a.m. The train's engineer told investigators the teenagers were standing between two sets of tracks and that he began to set his brakes and blow his horn before they stepped in front of the train, which was carrying about 100 passengers.

The train was traveling about 65 mph when it hit the girls.

Police found a digital camera, a camera case and a cell phone at the scene.

A woman who said she was a member of Arielle's family said the family did not want to comment on her death.

Oak Creek High School Principal Kathy Jorgenson said she was planning to notify her school's crisis team on Sunday about the girls' deaths. Teachers will read a brief statement at the start of school Monday, she said.







From the Nov. 14, 2005 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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