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Man who survived being struck by military train while asleep on railbed identified

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 29. 2018 9:35AM
A woman is escorted through a homeless encampment and off railroad property Tuesday morning after a 34-year-old man was struck by a Pan Am Railways freight train. (MARK HAYWARD/UNION LEADER)

Railroad police take measurements near the spot off Bedford Street where a 34-year-old homeless man was struck by a Pan Am Railways freight train early Tuesday morning. (MARK HAYWARD/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — A 34-year-old man had his ear nearly ripped off when an unscheduled train carrying military cargo passed over him early Tuesday morning as he slept between railroad ties on a railroad line adjacent to a homeless camp, a city fire official said.

Rescue workers discovered Michael J. Seiders conscious and suffering many cuts and bruises, said District Fire Chief Al Poulin. One of his ears was just about severed.

“This guy was very, very lucky he didn’t get killed,” Poulin said at the scene. He stood just outside the waist-high fence that separates the Pan Am Railway tracks from Bedford Street. Nearby are WMUR, Market Basket and a makeshift homeless camp, where a metal folding chair stood on a platform surrounded by a pair of boots, sleeping and camping materials and other personal items.

Poulin said homeless people living in camps have nowhere else to go. And while they feel comfortable at a camp so close to downtown, train traffic makes for a dangerous location, he said.  Seiders most recently 

In 2017, 669 trespassers were killed on the nation’s railways, according to statistics available from the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis. Categories include highway-rail collision, struck by on-track equipment, assault by another, and slipped/fell.

Another 755 suffered non-fatal injuries. None of the injuries or fatalities were in New Hampshire.

A Pan Am spokesman said the company worked with the city earlier this summer to remove a homeless camp on its property. Homeless camps exist in many urban areas alongside rail tracks, spokesman Cynthia Scarano said.

“It’s an ongoing problem,” she said.

Manchester police and City Clerk Matthew Normand, who oversees issues reported to the Neighborhood Enhancement Team, said they were unaware of the camp.

Pan Am Railways police are investigating the accident, Scarano said. She would not disclose the man’s name and directed a reporter to Manchester police. Police said Pan Am is handling information about the accident.

Poulin said the Fire Department responded to the scene at 2:45 a.m.

He said Seiders did not have a permanent address and may have been exhibiting mental health issues.  His last known address was a  triple-decker at 340 Lake Ave.

The injuries were serious enough that Elliot Hospital activated its trauma team. Scarano said the injuries do not appear to be fatal.

According to Pan Am, the train was traveling 10 mph, but cannot stop quickly even at that speed. It was not a regularly scheduled trip; the train was transporting military equipment to Concord.

The train stopped after striking Seiders, Scarano said.

A local homeless woman, Momma D Langlois, said about four or five people sleep in the camp near the tracks.

“There are signs all over; it’s posted no trespassing,” Langlois said.

Public Safety Manchester

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