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Officials Consider Rail Safety Improvements After Deadly Incidents

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Michael Cabaj was struck by a NJ TRANSIT train on Oct. 4, 2011 after leaving school (credit: CBS 2)

Michael Cabaj was struck by a NJ TRANSIT train on Oct. 4, 2011 after leaving school (credit: CBS 2)

WAYNE, NJ (CBSNewYork/AP) – Officials are considering whether they can improve safety at a New Jersey train trestle where two teenagers were struck and killed.

The trestle in Wayne is a popular shortcut for youngsters going to and from nearby Willowbrook Mall.

Police said the teens were walking along the train tracks over the Route 46 overpass in Wayne Sunday night when they were struck by a NJ TRANSIT train.  AJ Mendez, 16, a student at Wayne Valley High School, and Nicholas Sabina, 17, of Fairfield, were killed.

A 15-year-old from Little Falls was also with them, but managed to jump off an embankment when the conductor blew the horn. He was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

NJ Transit spokeswoman Penny Bassett Hackett said the conductor tried everything he could to try to stop the train and even used the emergency brake system.

Investigators are also looking into the death of 13-year-old Michael Cabaj, who was struck and killed Monday by a NJ TRANSIT train near the Plauderville Station in Garfield.

Police say the seventh grader went under the crossing gates on a kick scooter when he was hit.

“The reality is if somebody wants to get onto the tracks or cross the tracks there’s just no way that it’s possible to prevent that, which is why we focus on education and try to get the message out that tracks are dangerous and trains are dangerous,” NJ TRANSIT director James Weinstein told 1010 WINS.

The agency is implementing a safety program to educate students from kindergarten through high school on the dangers of the railroad.

Agency officials will tour the scenes of the two incidents later this week.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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