Witnesses told police that Joshua Kosch, 19, was in a group walking down the sidewalk around noon. They crossed the tracks, but Kosch stopped, despite people yelling at him to get off, Lt. Charles Kimble of the Fayetteville police said.
His leg was severed when the train hit him, Kimble said. Kosch was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition on Saturday afternoon.
The train was moving slowly at about 20 mph, witnesses told police. Trains are required to slow as they pass through downtown Fayetteville.
There were conflicting reports that Kosch might have been a character in the Dickens Holiday festival in downtown Fayetteville. Kimble said he might have been wearing a costume.
Hay and Russell streets were closed until the train was moved and the scene completely cleared by around 1:30 p.m.
Officials with CSX, which owns the right-of-way, were investigating the accident.