By Stephen Sorace
Published March 29, 2019
Hilda Figueroa and her granddaughter, Hilda Sanchez, 26, were on their way home from shopping in Springfield when they crossed the tracks at an unauthorized point and the train came bearing down on them, MassLive reported.
“There was no whistle, no horn,” Sanchez, who was named for her grandmother, told the news outlet. “It was just too fast and she pushed me out of the way.”
Sanchez walked away with only a bruised hand, but her grandmother, who was sent flying more than 50 feet when the train struck her, died of the resulting injuries as an ambulance rushed her to a hospital, the outlet reported.
No one aboard the train was injured, WWLP-TV of Springfield reported.
The exact speed of the train has yet to be determined, although an Amtrak spokeswoman told MassLive that the speed limit for that section is 50 mph. She also noted that Amtrak considers those who use that particular crossing to be trespassing.
“Railroad property is private property,” Amtrak spokeswoman Beth K. Toll said. “If you are on railroad tracks or railroad property without the expressed permission of the railroad property owner, you are trespassing.”
But Sanchez said many others in the neighborhood use that crossing, including schoolchildren, because it’s “the shortest way.” She also pointed out that a crossing guard is stationed nearby.
The city had planned to address the safety risk the dangerous crossing poses by building a $6.3 million pedestrian tunnel under the tracks, MassLive reported. Construction for the tunnel was set to begin shortly, after years of discussion, near the spot where Figueroa was struck and killed.
Figueroa’s daughter, Maria Nieves, told MassLive about the final moment she shared with her mother after witnessing the train strike her.
“My mother smiled at me and then closed her eyes,” she said.
Figueroa called Springfield home for 30 years, and was a beloved member of the community, Sanchez said.