A young couple train-hopping across the country has been found dead under a mound of coal at a Florida power plant, reports Yahoo News.
Christopher Artes, 25, and Medeana Hendershot, 22, illegally hopped freight trains on a trip across the country that included stops in George, Illinois and Tennessee. They chose Florida to enjoy the warm weather, but that is where their trip ended.
Sometime over the weekend, the couple was killed when the train stopped at a local Florida power plant. When the railcars arrive, their bottoms open and the cargo is released several stories below into a truck.
Artes died from asphyxiation, meaning that he was very likely buried alive. Hendershot died from blunt force trauma to her mid-section, meaning she died from falling or coal falling onto her.
The AP reported that officials are unsure whether the two were sitting on top of the mountain of coal when the delivery was made or if they were in a particular railcar when its bottom opened.
We were always worried about him. He always made so many bad decisions, Christopher's mother, Susan Artes, told the AP. If he got an idea and something looked good to him, he would do it. He was always jumping into situations. This particular train was one of them. I'm sure they thought the train would go from one yard to another.
Freight hopping has been a form of travel romanticized since the 1930s. However, the practice has declined increasingly over the past several decades as it is a dangerous and illegal activity.
I don't recommend it and I encourage people not to do it, said Kevin Rice, who writes about his childhood train hopping on his website. It was a great deal of fun and adventure but we could have gotten killed, said Rice.
Artes reportedly called his mother frequently to ask for directions to local truck stops and grocery stores.
If he had to die so young, at least he died at a moment where he was on top of the world, Susan Artes said.