BELGRADE (AP) – An Augusta man was in critical condition Sunday after he was struck by a train while fishing from a train trestle over a stream.

Gerald Kinnie, 32, suffered serious head injuries about 1:15 p.m. when he was struck by a southbound 78-car freight train headed from Bangor to Portland.

“According to witnesses, he was fishing and, as the train was going by, he lost his balance and slipped back and struck his head on the train,” said Sgt. Jeremy Damren of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office.

Damren said Kinnie was fishing with another man, but only Kinnie was injured.

The train operator blew the train’s whistle to warn the men, but Damren said it did not appear that Kinnie tried to get off the trestle as the train approached. The stretch of tracks where the accident took place is straight.

The crew of the train heard Kinnie strike the train and reported the accident.

Kinnie was taken to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

Belgrade Fire Chief Jeff Stevens said about 12 people responded from his department.

David Fink, executive vice president of the Guilford Rail System, said the accident underscores the danger of trespassing on railroad tracks.

There is little a freight train can do to avoid striking a pedestrian on the tracks except to blow the whistle as a warning, he said.

Attempting to brake the train too abruptly can cause it to derail, and often it takes well over a mile to stop a train the size of the one that hit Kinnie.

“To walk along the railroad tracks, you certainly take your life in your hands,” he said.

Maine has a system of escalating fines designed to keep people off the tracks for safety reasons. Last year about 500 people nationwide were killed after being struck by a train.

AP-ES-06-14-04 0216EDT

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