MARYSVILLE, Calif. - One teen is dead, another is in critical condition Saturday night when a train hit them as they walked along the railroad tracks, near the Earle Yorton Little League Park in Marysville, on Friday just after 7 p.m.
"She just lights up your whole life. She's amazing," Alithya Friend said about her 16-year-old sister, Mickayla Friend.
Friend had just dropped off Mickayla to attend a dance with her boyfriend, Mateus Moore at the Marysville Charter Academy For The Arts on Friday night. Friend said Mickayla and Mateus made a quick trip along the railroad tracks on their way to a nearby store to pick up some snacks -- that's when the train hit them.
"He was amazing. He loved her more than anyone, and just a life cut short," Friend said. "It's not fair."
According to Union Pacific spokesperson Aaron Hunt, the teens had their backs to the freight train while they were walking southbound along Union Pacific property. The train engineer saw the teens from a distance and sounded the horn. The engineer also attempted to stop the train. Hunt said there was ample time for the teens to leave Union Pacific property after the horn sounded.
The nearby little league field was filled with families who witnessed the collision.
"I heard the train, and it was honking a lot, and it didn't stop honking," said 11-year-old Eric Stark, who watched as the train made impact.
"Right when they turned around, it was too late," Eric said. "And then the guy, he pushed the girl out of the way, but she still got hit by the train. And it sucked him in sort of and ran him over."
Eric's dad, Shawn Stark was higher up in the stands. He said the young man's last act was a heroic one.
"I think if he wouldn't have pushed her, most definitely they both would have been under the train," Stark said.
Keeping young people off the tracks has been a persistent problem for law enforcement, especially near the Little League field. That's why extra officers were on hand early Saturday.
"Sometimes these trains, when you're directly in front of them, can sneak up on you," Marysville Police Chief David Baker said.
Friend said doctors have kept her sister sedated since the collision, but the family is confident she'll pull through.
"She lost the love of her life at a very young age. His life was cut short, so Kayla's going to have a hard time," Alithya said.
Union Pacific Police is leading the investigation into the crash, with the support from local law enforcement. The investigation remains open, but police said, so far, there are no signs of substance abuse or indications that either victim was wearing headphones when the train hit them.