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Saturday October 22, 2016
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Death on the Rails



A bit earlier, closer to Kalamazoo, the train had stopped abruptly between stations for about half an hour. The conductor announced over the intercom that they had to "check the tracks." I recalled that three days earlier a train had derailed in Chicago. So, if they felt the need to check the tracks here, I was all for it. It was only after we were moving again that the conductor revealed that they had been checking for a body. The engineer had seen something across the tracks, but thankfully it wasn't a person. (From another source, I've heard that there are frequent encounters with deer along that section of rail.)

We were nearly to the Jackson station. The conductor had just announced that we would be arriving in a few minutes, when the train made another abrupt stop. Our position short of the station, and the rapid pace of an agitated conductor (with a whispered "oh shit") revealed that something was wrong. But the passengers neither saw nor felt any collision. I assumed there was some mechanical problem.

After some time, another conductor - the senior man, I guess - entered the car. Calm and to the point, he said he didn't want to upset any children, but there had been a fatality: someone had been trespassing on the tracks. The authorities were investigating. In the meantime, the train couldn't move and we couldn't get off until buses arrived to bring us the rest of the way to Ann Arbor and Detroit.

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