A pedestrian died after being struck by a passenger train shortly before noon Sunday near the railroad crossing at North Ivy Street in downtown Canby, emergency officials have confirmed.
The victim was Oacean MacArthur, a 23-year-old man who lived in Canby with his grandmother, Julie Whitney.
MacArthur was northbound on Ivy and headed to Cutsforth’s Market for groceries, Whitney said in a Facebook post she shared with the community. She said he was wearing earbuds and listening to music, as was his habit.
“I’m so broken right now and numb,” Whitney wrote. “This can’t be. He’ll walk through the back door any second now with that smile he always gave me. Rest in peace, my sweet boy.”
At the time, the railroad crossing arms were down and lights flashing due to a Union Pacific freight train that was stopped at Ivy Street to change and unload cars.
Witnesses said MacArthur was climbing between the cars of the stopped UP train when he jumped onto the spur track and into the path of a southbound Amtrak train, whose engineer did not see him.
Canby Police Chief Jorge Tro told the Current the Amtrak engineer was not aware of the impact and stopped further south after being notified.
“Evidently, the victim jumped and hit the side of the train, not the very front,” Tro said.
Officers are still investigating and have requested video from Amtrak they hope will shed further light on what happened. The collision occurred at approximately 11:45 a.m.
Officers who were having lunch at a nearby restaurant were quick to the scene, where they found and interviewed several eyewitnesses. Emergency medical crews from Canby Fire arrived and confirmed the victim was deceased.
Fire personnel assisted officers with notifications to the family, according to Canby Fire Chief Jim Davis.
“We feel tremendously sorry for the family of the victim,” said Davis, who was on the scene. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Members of the local Facebook group Canby Now on Monday raised more than $875 to assist the family with cremation and funeral costs.
The Ivy Street intersection near Highway 99E was closed Sunday and early Monday morning due to the incident and continued stoppage of the Union Pacific train. Tro said the UP crew was “distraught” over the incident and was being replaced by a new crew.
UP representatives declined comment Monday and directed inquiries to Amtrak.
Though some have blamed the incident on the city’s controversial quiet zone project, which would make it so train engineers are no longer required to blow their horns at Canby’s three downtown intersections (including Ivy), the Current has confirmed the quiet zone is not yet in effect.
Tro said there is some required striping that needs to be done before railroad officials will sign off on the zone designation. Once the quiet zone is in effect, engineers still could and would blow their horns in an emergency situation.
Officials urge residents to use caution when crossing the railroad tracks, obey all signs and signals and never climb on, between or under stopped train cars.
Sadly, Canby has a long history of pedestrians and motorists who have lost their lives on the tracks, sometimes intentionally. In February 2018, a 17-year-old Canby High School student was hit by a UP freight train at the same intersection in what was believed to be an act of suicide.
In March 2016, two died after being hit by a northbound Amtrak passenger train near South End Road north of Canby, also likely suicides according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.
In 2012, Canby resident Robert Baker, 46, was struck by an Amtrak train while walking along the tracks near Cedar Street, an apparent accident. The area was not marked for pedestrian or vehicle crossings.
And two men were killed in August 2008, with the Clackamas County Fair in full swing nearby, when their car got stuck on the tracks and was hit by another Amtrak train, this one bound for Eugene.
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