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Man, adult son are killed by freight train in Fullerton [Updated]

A man and his son who were train-spotting in Fullerton were struck by a freight train and killed Wednesday night, authorities said.

About 11:15 p.m., a freight train was traveling near the train depot at North Harbor Boulevard and West Santa Fe Avenue when the conductor saw two men near the tracks, said Lena Kent, a spokeswoman for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.

The conductor sounded a horn in an attempt to warn the men and tried to stop the 7,200-foot-long train, Kent said. The train was unable to stop, she said, and the two men were struck. A freight train of that size traveling at 55 mph takes, on average, one mile to stop, she said.

Fullerton police responded and found two men on the railroad tracks.

The victims were identified as Virgil Lamphier, 56, and his son, David, 23, both of Fullerton.

“It looks like they were a couple of guys who liked to go down to see the trains once a week,” said Sgt. Mike MacDonald of the Fullerton Police Department.

The father had sent a text message to his wife, saying the two would be on their way home about 11 p.m., MacDonald said. He said the train station is a popular place for rail buffs to come and watch the trains at night.

[Updated at 2:50 p.m.: The daughter and sister of the victims said today that Virgil and David Lamphier used their weekly late-night walks along the tracks as a way to reconnect after years of estrangement. They chose the train tracks for the walks because they were only a few blocks from their home and because “it was just to be in a quiet place where they could just talk,” said Summer Lamphier, 27.

“It was like their space, their time,” she said outside the family house where other relatives had gathered. “It had zero to do with the trains themselves.”

She said her father and brother never discussed trains and had no particular fascination with them that she knew of. But one of their habits was to place pennies on the tracks for the passing trains to crush. After the train had passed, they collected the flattened coins and kept them in a jar at home.

Although it may never be known exactly what happened, Summer Lamphier said she believes that her father and brother were simply walking along the tracks with their backs to the train. By the time they heard it, it was too late to get away, she said.

The tracks are about a mile from the family home, to which Virgil Lamphier had returned about six months ago after separating from his wife, Bobbie, about 15 years ago. The couple, who never divorced, also have another daughter, Jennifer.]

--My-Thuan Tran and Dana Parsons in Orange County

Comments () | Archives (39)

This story has prompted me to pray for this family. I cannot even imagine what they are going through. Just remember that God has a plan for each of our lives no matter how bleak things look!

How terribly sad.
My big bro used to enjoy train-spotting, Cajon pass was a popular place we used to meet, watching the trains go around those turns. Rail yards though is a treacherous place, if it's busy and dark you don't know what track those machines are on. My condolances to the family and to the driver who tried to stop.

This story has prompted me to remember to keep the hell away from train tracks.

i ride the train alot in that area and i cannot understand what they were thinking. i really do think it was suicidal and murder. you cannot miss an approaching train in that are. sorry for the families

God's plan in this case was SPLAT!

So how do 2 perfectly healthy people who are able to walk and run get hit by a train on the tracks? I don't get how this happened.

How can they not hear the train and get out of the way????

Train travel use to be the safest form of travel in America. Now --- just watching them is lethal - and riding them is worse considering the engineer texting last year when dozens were killed on Metrolink. The Pullman Company which carried thousands of first class passengers in their sleeping cars during the 30s and 40s - had a pristine safety record. Today --- oh my God --- stop, look and listen!

What were they doing on the train tracks?

Yeah, and that plan must have been for them to leave their bodies at this time, because who in their right mind would stand on a railroad track and get killed by train? I mean it's not like you can't hear it or see it coming. I've never quite understood that.

I live close to where this took place and knew something had happened...I am so sorry that these two men lost their lives. May the Lord grant their family comfort and peace.

Yes, praying is helpful and important, but what the hell were these men thinking getting so close to the train tracks so late at night? I feel very sad for the family but this case also shows the stupidity of people.

Tips to future train spoters, if you feel the ground trembling under foot, hear a loud piercing horn and see a huge bulk of a machine coming at you. Get off the train tracks, that's a train.

um what? how do you not see or hear a train coming at you

NO, no there is no plan at the hands of a master clockmaker. That is a bunch of silliness. It was just an unfortunate accident. These things, alas, happen. At least the two were doing something they loved.

People, please remember that you are responsible for your own actions. Don't blame stupidity on "gods plan". Don't get close to train tracks and you won't get run over.

"The conductor sounded a horn" - does a freight train have a conductor? I would have guessed the engineer operated it without a conductor on board.

Just like the bible says: those who live by the train, die by the train.

I have often wondered why so many people are getting killed by trains. Just recently, I came to a stop because of an on-coming train. The train was so loud, that i could not hear myself talking. The grounds trembled enough to allow a deaf person to know that a train was coming. So why are there so many deaths. I may sound naive, but often it's either carelessness, negligence or SBT ( suicide by train) you tell me.

Well that's one train they didn't spot until it was too late.

That's terrible news. My sincere condolences to the family. They must be devastated.

I am so sorry for the wife waiting at home only to find out her husband and son were killed...how awful to have lost both of them at the same time. My heart goes out to her and their other family and friends. Though, as others have said, I really don't know how anyone (let alone TWO people) could have missed a HUGE LOUD RUMBLING TRAIN! Perhaps it was suicide/murder, I'm sorry to say. God bless their souls.


Well, at least they were successful. The train definitely spotted them.......

Please, let's be reasonable here. Religion and "god" had nothing to do with this.

It sadly sounds like these people were (or did something that was) not very intelligent and put themselves in danger...and, regretfully, they lost their lives.

What this means to any sane, reasonable person is that you always need to be aware of your surroundings and take care and not put yourself in unnecessary danger.

@Jarrett Wright - if you think there is a plan for everyone, would you please please explain what you think god's so-called plan was for Ted Bundy, Wayne Gacy, Charles Manson, Jack the Ripper, etc.?

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