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Cyclist fatally struck by train identified

Kevin Perry devoted his time and energy to the medical field.

The 28-year-old Argyle resident became a registered nurse through a Texas Woman's University program, got a job at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth and later moved on to the intensive care unit at Medical City Denton.

He was riding his bike less than two miles away from Medical City Denton on Tuesday when a southbound Denton County Transportation Authority A-train fatally struck him. The accident occurred in southeastern Denton near the intersection of Lakeview Boulevard and West Shady Shores Road. The woman he was riding with was not injured.

"We are deeply saddened at the news about the tragic accident and death of [Perry]," Medical City Denton CEO Steven Edgar said in a prepared statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, including all of his Medical City family. He will be missed by all of us at Medical City Denton."

Perry, whose father is a local firefighter, grew up in Sanger and married his wife, Ashley Perry, a year ago. According to his obituary, he loved outdoor activities, including biking.

Denton police have not been able to point to an official cause in the accident. At the time, Perry had been riding on Lakeview Boulevard on the Denton Katy Trail, an 8-mile concrete pathway that runs along the A-train rail. The trail, created with the A-train in 2011, crosses the tracks at multiple points.

The portion of the trail where Perry was riding runs outside the crossing arms on Lakeview Boulevard. Police said the crossing arms, signal lights and warning bells were operational at the time. However, people walking or biking on the trail are able to cross the tracks at any time.

According to railroad and commuter rail officials, sidewalks or pedestrian pathways that run outside of the crossing arms aren't unusual.

The railroad crossing that intersects with a walking and bike trail near the intersection of Lakeview Boulevard and West Shady Shores Road.  A 28-year-old cyclist was struck by a Denton County Transportation Authority A-train on Tuesday near this railroad crossing.DRC
The railroad crossing that intersects with a walking and bike trail near the intersection of Lakeview Boulevard and West Shady Shores Road. A 28-year-old cyclist was struck by a Denton County Transportation Authority A-train on Tuesday near this railroad crossing.
DRC

"While these type of crossings are common in neighborhoods and subdivisions, every crossing that has pedestrian trails or walk paths will also have safety warning signs, lights and gates that activate when a train is approaching to warn oncoming traffic and pedestrians," Federal Railroad Administration spokeswoman Tiffany Lindemann said in an email. 

When asked whether the onus is on pedestrians or cyclists to pay attention to the warning signals and crossing arms, Lindemann said, "It is FRA's hope that anytime a motorist, pedestrian or even a cyclist is near railroad tracks, they are aware of their surroundings and expect that a train could be coming."

Morgan Lyons, a spokesman for Dallas Area Rapid Transit, said there are several points in downtown Dallas where city sidewalks cross the local commuter rail outside of the crossing arms.

"The idea is to capture the attention of anyone in the area," Lyons said of the warning lights and sounds. "With a sidewalk, you're going to find the crossing arms on the street, not extending into the sidewalk."

DCTA President Jim Cline said the trail has to cross the tracks at multiple points because of "physical limitations" in the landscape.

Cline also said the entire A-train rail is a "quiet zone," which means the engineer does not sound the horn because the train runs through several residential neighborhoods. He said engineers may occasionally sound the horn if they determine there's a hazard or see workers near the tracks.

He said the operator sounded the horn "at the last second" Tuesday before the train struck Perry.

"This can be pretty traumatic for [the train operators], too," Cline said.

Perry's family will hold a public visitation at 9 a.m. Friday at the Church of Christ Sanger, 400 Locust St. in Sanger.  A memorial will be at 10 a.m. Friday at the same location. 

Donations can be made to the family at http://bit.ly/2sCdcBH. 

JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882.