Police identify Portland man killed when struck by freight train

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PORTLAND — A 54-year-old Portland man was killed Wednesday night when he was struck by an outbound freight train off Forest Avenue near Woodfords Street and Walton Street.

The victim, Richard Cobb, was seen by the engineer walking down the tracks toward the train “in a head-on like manner,” Portland Police Lt. James Sweatt said Thursday of the incident, which occurred at approximately 7:15 p.m.

The engineer sounded the horn and activated the emergency braking system, Sweatt said. Cobb apparently attempted to step away from the train to avoid being hit, but was struck and killed. He died at the scene.

Sweatt said people in the area heard the horn and “screeching brakes” and ran to the scene, where they attempted to resuscitate Cobb, as did emergency personnel when they arrived.

Railroad police continue to investigate the cause of the fatality, Sweatt said. They do not believe it was a suicide. Investigators are attempting to determine whether Cobb had an “altered mental status” or was under the influence of alcohol, although there is no evidence of that at this point, he said.

“It’s not unreasonable to say we had had contact with Mr. Cobb as a transient,” Sweatt said.

Portland police and Pan Am Railways, which owns the tracks, asked witnesses to leave an anonymous tip at 874-8584 or online at www.portland-police.com; or text the keyword GOTCHA plus their message to 274637 (CRIMES).

On Thursday, Federal Railway Administration spokesman Robert Kulaf said the FRA would not investigate the incident because it did not meet criteria for such an investigation.

Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, said Wednesday night that Amtrak’s Downeaster also uses the track, but was not involved in the accident.

Downeaster passengers who were scheduled to leave Portland at 8:10 p.m. were put on a bus and in taxis because the tracks were blocked, she said.