As the Montgomery County coroner released the names of two young men killed in separate train incidents on SEPTA's Warminster Line this week, transit officials termed the deaths "a tragic coincidence."
Coroner Walter I. Hofman identified Steven Gregory, 22, of Churchville, Bucks County, as the man who died of multiple injuries at 6:50 a.m. Wednesday near Hatboro. Hofman said Gregory's death was a suicide.
About 2:30 p.m. Monday, 24-year-old Scott Stevens of Willow Grove was walking north on the tracks and listening to music through ear buds when a train came around a curve and approached him from behind, Hofman said.
The engineer blew his whistle but could not stop the train in time, Hofman said.
"The engineer slammed on the brakes, but Stevens got hit in the back and fell," the medical examiner said. Death was due to multiple injuries and termed an accident. Toxicology tests are pending.
"Beyond being a tragic coincidence, it's far beyond us to explain the circumstances that lure people to certain railroad tracks," SEPTA spokesman Richard C. Maloney said. "It's a worldwide phenomenon."
He said that after two previous fatalities on the tracks in the Hatboro area in June, SEPTA convened safety meetings with area officials, installed new signs, and held programs emphasizing safety at the commuter station.
"About 90 percent of fatalities on the SEPTA system are suicides," Maloney said. "Railroad suicides are the subject of a lot of national and international study. No one has yet discovered a specific motivation or effective prevention."
Gregory's family described him as a "brilliant man and kind person, doing graduate work in philosophy," who wanted to become a writer and was working on a book. The family declined to comment on his state of mind before his death.
Stevens' family could not be reached.
Service was suspended on the Warminster Line between Warminster and Willow Grove in both cases and restored several hours later, according to transit agency spokeswoman Heather Redfern. In the meantime, shuttle buses ferried commuters between stations.
Upper Moreland and Hatboro police were looking into the fatalities; neither police department would comment. SEPTA officials were assisting in the investigations.