A Virginia man was struck and killed by an Amtrak train last week, according to police.
Kerry L. Hawkins, 55, of Suffolk, Virginia, was pronounced dead when first responders arrived at the scene after being notified at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, the Suffolk Police Department wrote on Facebook.
The railways were closed for several hours during the initial investigation, after the collision, which involved the bike-riding individual and an Amtrak passenger train, according to the Associated Press.
In a statement to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for the Amtrak said that the Northeast Regional Amtrak train came into contact with a person who was on the track as it was headed to Norfolk from Boston with 135 passengers aboard.
“All individuals should exercise caution around railroad tracks and crossings,” read the statement. “Amtrak works closely with Operation Lifesaver to communicate the dangers of grade crossings. Each year, about 2,000 people are killed or injured in grade crossing and trespassing incidents nationwide.”
WITNESS LeRoy says he was in the parking lot of the Red Barn food store around 6:30p when he heard the crossing horns and saw a man "not moving to good" trying to beat the train across the track...@WAVY_News pic.twitter.com/faWh9fzImt— Brett Hall (@BrettHNews) December 28, 2019
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A woman said to be Hawkins’ sister told WAVY that the incident “doesn’t make sense,” as her landscaper brother was “always going over these train tracks.”
One witness to the accident told WAVY that he saw Hawkins, who appeared to be “struggling,” riding a bike while attempting to cross the railway before the train passed.
“He was trying to cross and got hit by the train but his body flew … like flew,” the observer told the outlet. “I ran to help, but he was gone.”
Loved ones mourned the loss of Hawkins on social media, affectionately calling the man Mook and sharing in their disbelief of the tragedy.
“I love u MOOK!! Lord this one toughhhh💔💔💔😭😭😭,” wrote one family member on Facebook. “SINCE A LIL GIRL…I ALWAYS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE…I HAVE A MILLION MEMORIES WITH U….AND IM GONNA MISS U SO MUCH … Kerry Hawkins SLEEP IN PEACE.”
In their statement, Amtrak expressed the importance of following all safety precautions concerning railway travel.
“It’s critical that the public fully understand the consequences of trespassing on railroad property, and failure to obey grade crossings signs and signals,” read the statement. “Pedestrians and drivers often do not realize how dangerous it is to walk on or near railroad tracks, or how long it takes the average train to stop.”
It added, “It can take a mile or more for a fully loaded freight train to come to a full stop, making it difficult for railroad engineers to avoid collisions in emergency situations.”