Three Pedestrians Killed By Train at Lake Accotink

Three Pedestrians Killed By Train at Lake Accotink

One struck, two fell off bridge to their deaths.

Trains travel at high speeds over the bridge at Lake Accotink.

Trains travel at high speeds over the bridge at Lake Accotink.

Three people died recently at Lake Accotink when they tried crossing an elevated train bridge over Accotink Creek when a train came, resulting in the fatalities.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, officers responded to a train crash on Wednesday, June 5 at 8:29 p.m., in the 7500 block of Accotink Park Road in Springfield. Preliminarily, Fairfax County Police detectives determined Diego Arriaza, 28, of Annandale, Yeraldin Pardo, 28, of Lincolnia and her 8-year-old child were on the northbound elevated train tracks and encountered a travelling freight train. Detectives believe Arriaza was struck by the train, and Pardo and the child fell from the bridge. All three victims were declared deceased at the scene, FCPD said.

Detectives do not believe that speed or alcohol were factors in the crash for the train engineer. Detectives continue to investigate if alcohol was a factor in the crash for the pedestrians.

For the residents of Springfield, Accotink Creek and Lake Accotink area are popular recreation areas. In the past, the cardboard boat regatta was a big hit, and more recently, the park authority and local officials juggled the need to save the lake from being filled in by sediment coming downstream. The overhead train is part of the background noise throughout the day, but pedestrian crossings on this overhead bridge are prohibited, unsafe and not common.

The train tracks and rail system are not under the purview of the Fairfax County Park Authority, said Ben Boxer, FCPA spokesperson. "We would echo the message that the railroad tracks are not safe for pedestrians. We implore all visitors of the park to enjoy the marked pedestrian trails within the park and to not leave the park to venture onto the railroad tracks," Boxer said.

According to Heather Garcia, the Sr. Communications Manager at Norfolk Southern, the bridge over Accotink Creek is on their radar. "This particular crossing over this creek has a history that spans many, many years, but I can tell you that we have not had any incidents here in at least the last decade," she said.

The National Safety Council cites the increase in train collisions with cars in recent years but not with pedestrians. In 2022, of the total 954 deaths involving trains, 29% occurred at rail-crossings across the country. Motor vehicle fatalities were the highest while pedestrian deaths were lowest. Of the 954 deaths in 2022, 651 were summed up as "Trespasser," which would include pedestrians on an overhead railroad bridge.

Anyone with information about this crash is asked to contact FCPD Crash Reconstruction Unit at 703-280-0543. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477).