Hundreds of residents gathered Sunday to mourn a Northern California teen who they hailed as a hero for sacrificing himself by shoving his girlfriend out of the direct path of an oncoming Union Pacific train.
Mateus Moore, 16, was pronounced dead at the scene Friday after both he and his girlfriend, 16-year-old Mickayla Friend, were hit by the train in Marysville, Calif., just north of Sacramento. Mickayla was airlifted to Sutter Roseville Medical Center for critical injuries, where she is recovering.
"I'm proud of him. At the same time, I want my son back," Mateus' father, Marcus, told Fox 40. "He shoved her out of the way and saved her life."
Marysville Police Chief David Baker said the teens were headed to a Sadie Hawkins dance at their high school, Marysville Charter Academy of the Arts, when they were struck by the southbound Union Pacific train.
Hundreds gathered at Earle Yorton Little League on Sunday evening to remember Mateus as investigators try to figure out why he and Mickayla apparently did not see, hear or feel the vibrations of the slow-moving train. Baker said they did not find headphones on either of the victims.
“We just don’t know. We don’t know what distractions had been in place," Baker said.
Marysville police and the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department are aiding Union Pacific, which is leading the investigation.
The Appeal-Democrat reported that witnesses heard the train's horn go off many times just before the accident.
Mickayla's family told Fox 40 that after she awoke in the hospital, the teenager said she and Mateus were walking across the tracks to get a snack at the time of the accident. They did so instead of taking an underground pedestrian tunnel, she added, because they felt the pathway was too dark and potentially dangerous, her mother said.