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Mother of Queens man killed on LIRR tracks near Hollis station recalls him as talented artist

Commuters crowd the westbound platform at the Mineola

Commuters crowd the westbound platform at the Mineola LIRR station as the LIRR is experiencing delays on Thursday, July 9, 2015 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

MTA police are investigating how a man and woman got on the Long Island Rail Road tracks near the Hollis station in Queens, where they were struck and killed by a train early Thursday, officials said.

The two, both 29 years old, were struck about 200 feet east of the station, a railroad spokeswoman said. They were identified by the MTA as Leanna Belcher and Booker Favors, both of Queens.

A spokeswoman said there was no criminality involved.

Toni Luck, who identified herself in a phone interview as Favors' mother, said her son and Belcher were friends and both lived in Hollis. Luck, 48, said she was told by detectives that the deaths were an accident.

While she readied for a candlelight vigil near the scene Thursday night, a distraught Luck remembered her son as a talented artist who sketched cartoons that often featured prominent elements of New York City as a backdrop. Luck said Favors worked in construction and was heavily involved with his church.

"He was an artist, he loved to draw, he was very poetic, he was a very friendly person," Luck said. "He was very supportive of other people."

Thursday night, she called for reinforced fencing and other safety measures at the tracks to prevent future tragedies.

"My boy died on them tracks, and they're not safeguarded," Luck said. "They [were] both young and they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

When reached by phone Thursday night, Belcher's mother, Anita Belcher, said she was not ready to comment on the death of her daughter.

LIRR spokeswoman Meredith Daniels said the 1:46 a.m. train from Ronkonkoma due at Penn Station at 3:05 a.m. was pulling into the Hollis station when the two were struck and killed. Residual delays on at least six branches of the LIRR rippled out into the early stages of Thursday morning's commute, Daniels said. She said "the two were trespassing on an overpass."

The track overpass runs over and perpendicular to 195th Street. The two were struck about 200 feet east of the station where there is an elevated signal bridge. There were no openings visible Thursday morning that would allow entry to that area.

Two years ago, two people were struck and killed by a westbound train to the west of the same station. That occurred on the night of July 29, 2013, on the tracks near 183rd Street.

With Gary Dymski

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