John Klicker  /  AP
A Clark County sheriff's boat and a deputy rest on the shore of the Lewis River north of Ridgefield, Wash., on Monday after a man and four children were surprised on the span by a Union Pacific freight train.
updated 6/1/2004 9:35:15 AM ET 2004-06-01T13:35:15

An adult and a 12-year old neighbor were killed Monday when a Union Pacific freight train hit them as they trespassed on a railroad bridge over the Lewis River. Three other children escaped the onrushing locomotive.

The southbound train, on its way from Seattle to Portland, was crossing a bridge over the river when the accident occurred in a rural area about 13 miles north of Vancouver in southwest Washington.

Arin Kight, 30, and Ashley Falk, 12, both of Ridgefield, were killed, the Clark County sheriff’s office said Monday night. The Clark County medical examiner’s office put the dead man’s age at 33 and there was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.

Kight and his fiancee, Melissa Barkley, had come to Morgan’s Landing, a quiet beach on the Ridgefield side of the river, to spend Memorial Day with their three children and a young friend.

Kight took his two children, 12-year-old Heaven Campbell and 7-year-old Matt Thompson, as well as their friend Ashley, and Barkley’s 6-year-old son, Wayne Frye, to explore the bridge.

“I remember this really loud bang, and dad told us to get on the edge,” said Wayne, who survived the accident with minor injuries. “My dad didn’t make it.”

John Bromley, a Union Pacific spokesman in Omaha, Neb., told the Associated Press by telephone that the group of people was trespassing on the bridge, which he described as private property and “not a pedestrian passageway.”

Barkley, 25, told reporters at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, that she had pleaded with Kight not to go on the bridge with the children. She stayed at a small beach nearby.

“I saw him get hit,” she said. “There was nothing I could do.”

Gus Melonas, a spokesman for Burlington Northern Santa Fe, said the train with 47 rail cars struck Kight and the 12-year-old child, who was his neighbor, near the middle or south end of the bridge.

The bridge links Ridgefield and the town of Woodland, directly to the north.

Until about five years ago, an 8- by 8-foot plank jutting out from the tracks provided a safe haven for those crossing the bridge if a train came, he said, but it was removed.

Bromley said Union Pacific would investigate. Melonas said Burlington Northern, which owns the tracks, also was investigating.

Clutching a stuffed monkey, Wayne Frye said he suffered a big bruise on his tailbone and wanted to warn other children. “Boys and girls, you do not want to play on the train tracks, because you’ll get a big bruise and then — maybe even worse.”

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