16-Year-Old Eric Albrecht Lucky To Be Alive Following Near Tragedy On East End

CENTER MORICHES, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A teen was hit by a train as he walked along the tracks on his way home from school Monday afternoon. He didn’t hear it coming because he was wearing headphones.

Some East End students continued to walk along railroad tracks listening to loud music just a day after a classmate, also wearing earphones, had a brush with death — accidentally hit and thrown into a ravine by a Long Island Rail Road train not far from Center Moriches High School, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Tuesday.

“I have my church praying for him. We have a whole group praying. He is one wonderful kid,” said the 16-year-old victim’s uncle, Wilfredo Cruz.

Eric Albrecht, a 10th grade football player, is recovering with a serious hip fracture and other injuries. His family called the fact that he survived a miracle.

The Center Moriches Fire Department was first on the scene. The victim’s headphones were still visible.

“Wearing those headsets, he is quite lucky to be alive today,” Fire Chief Ron Primus said.

“He was down off the tracks about a 15-foot slide of rocks from the railroad tracks down. He was lying in a position and wasn’t moving.”

LIRR officials said the train had been traveling at 60 mph, just under the speed limit, and sounded its horn. The victim barely jumped out of the way.

McLogan spoke to other students with earphones near the tracks. They said they’d try to be careful.

“Depends on how loud the music is. I don’t usually ride with them, just carry them along,” Austin Roggemann said.

Police report multiple injuries each year due to cyclists, drivers and pedestrians plugged into pumped-up music, unaware of their surroundings.

“To be safe, I just take one earphone out, leave the other one in. That way you can hear the people coming at you,” Westhampton Beach resident Toni Piazza said.

“I always keep it at a low level, just in case there is an emergency vehicle that has to pass,” added resident Marcus Stinchi.

Parents, educators and law enforcement leaders said they hope to use this near tragedy as a teaching moment, exposing possible dangers and risks of earphones.

The incident is still under investigation by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority police and the LIRR.

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