Chesterton Tribune

Chesterton man killed by train

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A Chesterton man was killed early this morning after being struck by a train as he was lying on the tracks near the Norfolk Southern railroad crossing at Burdick Road and C.R. 400E in Jackson Township.

The Porter County Sheriff’s Police identified the man as Christopher Birkholz, 38, who resided in the 300 block of Lincoln Ave.

According to police, at 2:20 a.m. officers were dispatched to the scene after a train crew reported seeing a male subject lying on the south set of tracks prior to being struck by an eastbound train. Emergency responders found Birkholz between the two sets of tracks and determined that he died of multiple chest and head injuries, police said.

Birkholz’s vehicle, a 2001 Dodge, was subsequently located in a ditch near 237 E. Porter Ave., and police said that he apparently failed to negotiate a curve at the location, left the roadway, and became stuck in the ditch. Investigators followed footprints from the crash to the railroad tracks, police said, and it is believed that Birkholz may have been attempting to walk home but, in the heavy fog, became confused and went east rather than west. Birkholz was found several miles from his vehicle, police added.

Investigators do not know why Birkholz was lying on the tracks but full and empty beer cans were found in and near his vehicle, police said, and investigators have requested tests to be conducted to determine whether alcohol was a factor in the crash and the death.

Porter County Coroner Victoria Deppe responded to the scene and an autopsy was scheduled for later today.

The train consisted of one locomotive and 15 cars, which were hauling semi trailers.

Family members were notified by officers assisted by a PCSP chaplain.




Posted 2/21/2007