A 16-year-old wearing earphones was hit by a train yesterday as he walked along railroad tracks in Center Moriches, LIRR officials said.
Eric Albrecht, of East Moriches, was airlifted by Suffolk police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital and is expected to survive a broken hip and other injuries on the right side of his body, authorities said.
Albrecht was walking east about 1 p.m. as a Montauk train going in the same direction approached the Speonk station near Chichester and Railroad avenues, LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena said.
It was traveling on the long stretch of single track between Mastic-Shirley and Speonk stations at approximately 60 mph -- below the maximum allowable speed of 65 mph, MTA police told him, Arena said.
An engineer trainee was operating the diesel locomotive under the supervision of a certified LIRR locomotive engineer when they saw a lone figure ahead, Arena said. The trainee sounded his horn but Albrecht apparently did not hear the warning, he said.
The trainee then brought the train to an emergency stop, Arena said. Both the trainee and the engineer told investigators that Albrecht, in the last moments, "appeared to become aware of the train, but could not get out of" the way in time, the MTA said.
Arena initially said the train was several hundred yards away when the crew first saw Albrecht. Later, Arena said MTA investigators said it was unclear how far away the train was when the crew members first spotted Albrecht.
"It appears that the trainee and the instructor did everything they could to alert the youth and stop the train," Arena said in an email statement. "But why he would choose an always dangerous railroad right of way as his route home is just inexplicable."
The case is still under investigation by the MTA Police Detective Squad and will also be investigated by the LIRR.
Family members told police that Albrecht had just completed a midterm exam and was walking home from Center Moriches High School when he was struck, Arena said.
Center Moriches Fire Chief Ron Primus said the teen landed about 15 feet down from the tracks and was able to talk to rescuers. "He was in a ravine off the side of the tracks," he said. "He was alert and conscious. He's very, very lucky."