By ERIN ROLL
A Montclair man was struck and killed by a train near Watchung Avenue Station early Monday morning, May 13.
Stephen Korbel, 53, was struck by an eastbound Montclair-Boonton Line train at 5:20 a.m., NJ Transit spokesperson Lisa Torbic said.
The train had just departed Montclair State University and was due to arrive at New York’s Penn Station at 6:04 a.m.
Train service on the Montclair-Boonton Line was suspended in both directions following the strike. Service in both directions had resumed by 9 a.m., but was subject to delays of 45 minutes to an hour.
None of the 30 passengers and crew aboard the train were injured. The train’s occupants were transferred to a NJ Transit bus.
The investigation is ongoing, Torbic said. No other information about the manner of Korbel’s death was available as of Monday.
Kendra Johnson, the superintendent of the Montclair public schools, said that Korbel was a parent to students in the district, and that counselors were being made available.
Monday’s fatality was the second to occur near Watchung Avenue Station in the past seven months. In November, 28-year-old Joan Juengling, also a Montclair resident, was killed by a train just west of the station.
There have been six trespassing deaths on NJ Transit tracks in Montclair since 2002. Of those, five have taken place at or near Watchung Avenue Station, and of those five, four occurred during the night or during predawn hours.
The victims have ranged in age from high school students to adults.
A trespassing fatality involves a person, other than an authorized railroad employee, or a passenger on a designated train station platform, who is on railroad property.
Two streets, Bruce Road and Appleton Road, end in cul-de-sacs next to the tracks just west of the station. There is no fencing along the tracks near those roads, but NJ Transit has placed warning signs cautioning against trespassing.
According to Operation Lifesaver, there were a total of 28 trespassing-related accidents on railroad property in New Jersey in 2018. Seventeen resulted in deaths, while 11 people sustained injuries.
New Jersey was ranked 10th nationwide for trespassing casualties in general, and 11th for trespassing deaths. California had the most casualties, with 123 deaths and 86 injuries.