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Police release name of Fullerton girl who was struck and killed by freight train

December 30, 2009 |  4:45 pm

A 15-year-old Fullerton girl who was killed when she stepped into the path of a freight train was identified today by the Orange County coroner’s office.

Savannah Rose White was pronounced dead about 1 p.m. Tuesday near a railroad crossing on Placentia Avenue, south of Fender Avenue, said Deputy Coroner Kelly Keys.

Savannah had been shopping nearby with her father and brother when she wandered away from them, said Police Lt. Alex Bastreri.  Her father drove around looking for her when he saw that she wasn’t waiting for them by the car, he said. 

After driving around for a few minutes, he found her sitting south of the tracks, Bastreri said. The father repeatedly asked Savannah to get in the car, but she refused. He parked northwest of the tracks and waited for her to cool off.  Then “she stood up, crossed the track and got hit by the train,”  Bastreri said.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe train, which was heading east at about 50 mph, threw the girl nearly 100 feet, Bastreri said.

Conflicting statements from witnesses, however, have made it difficult for investigators to determine if Savannah stepped in front of the train accidentally or intended to commit suicide. Her father said the death was accidental, Bastreri said.

“Whether she tried to cross the tracks or tried to kill herself, we just don’t know,” he said.

-- Ruben Vives

Photo: Vallerie Balles and Curtis Duran, who attended Troy High School with Savannah Rose White, console each other at the site where Savannah was killed by a train. Balles said she was Savannah's color guard captain, and Duran said he played in the marching band. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times