Coroner: Teens killed by train were playing game

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 | 11:50 a.m. CDT; updated 1:14 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Union Pacific Railroad Special Agent Steve Ray looks for debris along a rail line just north of Poplar Bluff on Tuesday, after two teenagers were killed and another was injured when their vehicle was struck by an Amtrak train just after midnight. Fifteen-year-old Victoria Swanson and 17-year-old Heather Whitmer, both of Poplar Bluff, were killed. A third girl was airlifted to a Cape Girardeau hospital.

POPLAR BLUFF — Two girls struck and killed by an Amtrak train were playing a deadly game.

The accident happened early Tuesday at a railroad crossing near Poplar Bluff in southeast Missouri. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the victims were 15-year-old Victoria Swanson and 17-year-old Haley Whitmer, both of Poplar Bluff. A third girl is in serious condition.

Butler County Coroner Jim Akers said the teens were playing a game called "Ghost Train," in which a car is parked on the tracks purportedly awaiting a "ghost train" that wrecked many years ago. Occupants let the windows fog up in the scary setting. If a real train approaches, they drive off.

But Akers said the Jeep wouldn't restart. Relatives told Akers the girls had played the game many times before.

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