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Officials suspect dare in deaths on train tracks

Authorities now want to know whether three young men struck by a freight train two of them killed -- were involved in some kind of truth-or-dare challenge before they were struck in Westfield on Friday evening.

The incident occurred at about 6:26 p.m. Friday, when a 45-car Norfolk Southern freight train heading west toward Chicago struck the three men, who were on the railroad bridge that runs between North Portage Street and North Gale Street in the Chautauqua County village, authorities said.

The three men attempted to run from the bridge before they were struck.

But why didn't they see the train in time to flee?

"It's probably a truth-or-dare thing," said Brad Damcott, second assistant chief of the Westfield Fire Department. "It's in a wide-open area where you can't miss seeing the train. If the conductor and the engineer saw them and started to put on the brakes, the kids obviously could see the train."

Authorities say the fatal accident occurred in an area where a lot of young people hang out on the railroad tracks.

Brian W. Reed, 25, of Westfield, and Justin Halpainy-Livermore, 20, of Jamestown, were pronounced dead at the scene, according to Westfield police reports.

The lone survivor, Benjamin L. Reed, 26, of Westfield, was flown to Hamot Medical Center in Erie, Pa., where he was listed in serious condition in the Intensive Care Unit on Saturday.

As in any such incident, police want to know whether alcohol or drugs could have been factors, but there's been no indication so far that either was involved here.

Police hope to interview the survivor, but that's not their only way to determine the sequence of events that preceded the tragedy.

All such trains have cameras on the front of them.

"We'll get a download next week, and we'll see exactly what happened," one law-enforcement official said Saturday.

Westfield police couldn't be reached to comment, and authorities Saturday weren't sure whether or how the two Reeds were related.

email: gwarner@buffnews.com