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    Light Rail Death Investigation Centers On Driver

    Train Hit, Killed 2 Teens Sunday Afternoon

    POSTED: 6:40 pm EDT July 8, 2009
    UPDATED: 10:33 am EDT July 9, 2009

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    The driver of a Maryland Transit Authority light rail train is at the center of an investigation into the deaths of two teens, officials said.

    MTA Administrator Paul Wiedefeld said because of requests from the teens' families, Baltimore County police will take the lead in the investigation.

    Kyle Wankmiller and Connor Peterson, both 17 and from Lutherville, were killed Sunday afternoon as they walked north on the southbound tracks near the Lutherville station.

    The northbound tracks in the area had been closed at that time due to debris on the tracks. Officials said they believe the boys didn't know trains would be coming from the other direction. They were struck from behind at about 3:15 p.m.

    Wiedefeld said they are rereviewing audio and videotapes from all of the trains in the area of the incident that day and they're reinterviewing witnesses.

    He said experts from the National Transportation and Safety Board and the Federal Transit Authority are also getting involved.

    The MTA still didn't have answers as to how the driver didn't know he hit the teens.

    Wiedefeld said the train was traveling around a sharp curve at the time of the incident. They're also checking to see if the driver was texting or on a cell phone.

    Wiedefeld made it very clear he would get an answer to that question, which 11 News still made sure to ask.

    "Any idea how the driver could not possibly know that he hit two people? Amtrak trains hit people all the time and stop immediately and they're much heavier than light rails," 11 News reporter Lowell Melser asked Wiedefeld.

    "Again, we're taking all the details of the event and that's the answer we're looking for," Wiedefeld said.

    The case is still under investigation and could take up to 30 days to review. At that time, it will be handed over to the state's attorney's office, which is standard procedure.

    That office will determine if charges will be filed in the case.

    Both the driver of the train that struck the teens and the driver who discovered them have been taken out of service.

    Family Reaction

    "There's been something wrong with this whole thing, from the very beginning," Kyle Wankmiller's mother, Amy Wankmiller, said.

    The family of the victims said they feel like they've been getting the run-around from the MTA since the boys' deaths.

    Since the incident, they said there has been one question that keeps running through their minds.

    "Why couldn't the conductor have seen him? He's supposed to have 8- to 10-foot windows, what was he doing that he didn't see the boys?" Wankmiller said. "He got lazy, he got careless, whatever he did, he killed our boys."

    Stay with 11 News and WBALTV.com for updates.


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