An 11-year-old boy who was electrocuted Saturday while climbing on a SEPTA commuter train had apparently walked into a North Philadelphia rail yard after leaving a neighborhood block party.
Jewel Angelo of the 300 block of West Albanus Street was killed around 7 p.m. after he climbed atop a train car and touched a rooftop pantograph, which carries 11,000 volts of electricity from overhead lines to power the train, SEPTA assistant general manager James B. Jordan said Monday.
Jordan said the boy and several other youths had been seen along nearby rail tracks after leaving a block party on Elwood Street. His body was found by a SEPTA employee on the ground near two trains at the Wayne Electric Facility Sunday morning.
The party was organized by Eric Holiday, 53, the block captain for Elwood Street. He said it was held to celebrate the first birthday of a neighborhood girl and the coming of summer.
"As we concluded the block party, Jewel was nowhere to be found," said Holiday, who lives next door to some of the boy's relatives. He said the boy frequently visited the neighborhood.
Family members and neighbors searched the area for the boy that evening, Holiday said. "They didn't find him till the next day."
The boy recently had been baptized at Christian Love Worship Cathedral at Eighth Street and Lehigh Avenue, said Holiday, who attends the church.
"It's a terrible time for his family," he said.
Relatives next door and a man who identified himself on Albanus Street as the boy's father all declined to be interviewed.
Holiday said he believed that the boy and other children accessed the closed Fishers train stop near where Elwood meets Logan Street.
A reporter was easily able to walk up a grass hill from Logan Street to reach the graffiti-covered station and the tracks leading south to the Wayne rail yard.
The rail yard, where trains are stored and repaired, is gated and locked, but it is accessible by foot along the many tracks that converge on the yard.
Jordan said SEPTA officials will meet with area school administrators to stress to students the dangers of railroads. Every year, several people in the Philadelphia area are killed by SEPTA trains, either struck by trains or electrocuted by power lines.
He said young people, who often "think they're invincible," sometimes view trains and rail yards as "a place to play."
Angelo's death was the second this year on SEPTA's rail network. Four trespassers were struck by trains and killed last year, and five were struck and killed in 2008, said Jim Fox, director of system security for SEPTA. A man was electrocuted in April 2009 when he fell from an overpass onto SEPTA wires near the Neshaminy Falls station. In May 1993, a 19-year-old Bucks County woman was electrocuted while climbing a railroad power pole along the R3 line near Parkland.
"Nobody would think of walking down Roosevelt Boulevard at rush hour, but that's probably no more dangerous than walking along rail lines," Jordan said. He said "nobody has figured out how to prevent tragedies like this."