NORTH CONWAY — Conway police said the woman struck and seriously injured Sunday afternoon by the Conway Scenic Railroad’s “Pumpkin Patch Express” train is a local resident.
Police did not release her name.
The woman, said Conway Police Lt. Chris Mattei, was reportedly standing to the side of the tracks behind the McDonald’s on Route 16, when, despite horn blasts from the train’s engineer, she “stepped out onto the tracks in front of the train.”
The woman was thrown from the tracks, said Mattei in a prepared statement, and among her wounds were injuries to her head and extremities. She was taken by ambulance to Memorial Hospital in North Conway, then airlifted to Maine Medical Center in Portland.
At the time of the incident, reported at 2:58 p.m. Sunday, the Pumpkin Patch Express — which was led by “No. 4266,” a former Boston & Maine diesel-electric engine that was pulling seven cars with upward of 300 passengers — was about a mile south of the North Conway Station.
The passengers, according to Conway Scenic officials, included many families who were taking the Pumpkin Patch Express from North Conway to the railroad’s “Pumpkin Patch” in Conway, about 20 minutes away, where they could disembark and participate in various activities.
Derek Palmieri, the railroad’s operations manager, said the train’s engineer, conductor and two trainmen who were onboard at the time of the incident have been offered the opportunity to participate in a “critical-stress debriefing.”
At the time of impact, the Pumpkin Patch Express had slowed down from its operating speed of 20 miles per hour to 13, said Palmieri, but given the train’s mass, it still took a significant distance to come to a complete halt.
Palmieri said the woman was trespassing in the railroad’s right-of-way, which comprises 53 miles of rail, some owned outright and some leased from the State of New Hampshire.
He said on Sunday that it’s “quite common to see people walking on the right-of-way,” particularly where the tracks cross the Saco River. But the spot where the woman was struck, he added, was not close to a bridge or crossing.