Authorities unsure why teens were on rail tracks
Posted January 23, 2015
Smithfield, N.C. — Authorities on Friday were still trying to figure out why two Smithfield-Selma High School students were walking on a railroad line where they were killed by a train Thursday afternoon.
Robert Naughton, 17, and Alan Peedin, 18, both sophomores at the school, were hit by a northbound Amtrak train at about 2 p.m. near the intersection of Shelter Way and North Brightleaf Boulevard as the train approached the Selma station.
No one was injured on The Palmetto train, which was on its way from Savannah, Ga., to New York City.
Investigators were speaking Friday with Amtrak employees and were trying to track the teens' final hours, Lt. Keith Powell of the Smithfield Police Department said.
Mark Peedin said his son and Naughton had been friends since middle school and sometimes walked along the tracks to and from school.
“Alan took all his friendships seriously. He loved his friends. His heart was golden,” Mark Peedin said. “He treasured his friendships.”
Alan Peedin had struggled in school, his father said, but was singing when he headed out on Thursday morning because he was excited about starting an auto mechanics class. The younger Peedin dreamed about owning an auto repair shop one day, his father said.
Grief counselors were at Smithfield-Selma High on Friday to help students and faculty cope with the teens' deaths.
"Everybody was kind of shaken today. Some people were crying. Some people were disturbed. Some people had to get out of class because they were too emotional to handle a normal class," Smithfield-Selma High student Roger Munguia said. "We shouldn't take for granted what life has given us."
The school plans to hold a vigil for Naughton and Alan Peedin next week.
"These students were part of the Sparta Family, and their presence will be missed," Principal Stephen Baker said in a statement. "Losing a part of your family is always difficult, and we are working with our students, staff and the students’ families to provide any assistance we can to help through this difficult time.”