WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita school’s officials are raising concerns about trains stalling for long periods of time on nearby tracks, which is leading students to crawl under boxcars and across the couplings to get home.
Hamilton Middle School Principal Justin Kasel says that trains traveling just north of the school sometimes are stopped for up to an hour, tying up traffic.
“It can be stuck there between five and even over 60 minutes,” Kasel said.
More than two-thirds of the school’s 600 students don’t qualify for a bus, so they either walk or get rides.
Kasel said stalled trains blocked several intersections both before and after school on Tuesday, which led to at least 150 students being a half-hour late for school. But he said that children crawling through or underneath stalled trains are far more worrisome than the delays.
Kasel held assemblies Wednesday to warn students about the dangers of crossing railroad tracks. He also planned to send a notice to parents about the issue.
Tom Wilcox, a school employee, posted a video to Facebook after witnessing students taking dangerous risks Tuesday when a train stalled. The video was later taken down but prompted the school to issue a warning.
“It was terrifying. The train would move back and forth all of a sudden, and one of those couplings could crush a kid,” Wilcox said. “That could have been a tragedy.”
The tracks and crossing near Hamilton Middle School belong to Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad, which didn’t return a request for comment Wednesday. It’s unclear what caused the hour-long delay on Tuesday.
A Texas-based railroad company, BNSF Railway, is currently challenging a Kansas law that bars railroads from blocking a crossing for more than 10 minutes.