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Boy hit by train was wearing ear buds, hood

Feb. 28, 2012

The 11-year-old boy who was killed by a freight train Monday was wearing ear bud headphones and had a hood over his head when he was hit, investigators said Tuesday.

Joseph Kramer, also known as Joey, was hit when he crossed the railroad tracks at the intersection of 68th and State streets in Wauwatosa on his way to school shortly before 7:30 a.m., according to a report released Tuesday by the Milwaukee County medical examiner's office. Joey was a sixth-grader at Longfellow Middle School.

According to police and the report, Joey and his mother had just moved in January to a home less than a quarter of a mile from the scene of the accident. He was on his way to Longfellow at 76th and North Ave. as the train approached.

"According to the train engineer, conductor and numerous witnesses at the intersection, the train was approaching, eastbound at 35 mph. The train is approximately 4,000 feet long, carrying 4,000 tons of cargo," the report says.

"The decedent was walking northbound, and the train operators saw him walking, with his head down and hood up over his head. As the train approached, the train operators noted the decedent was not looking up and noticing the train coming, so they blew the train's whistle several times. The decedent was noted wearing ear buds in his ears, and walked across the tracks, head down the entire time. Witnesses say the decedent was struck just as he almost cleared the tracks at the above intersection."

Joey was thrown on impact. He later died at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin from multiple blunt force trauma injuries.

Investigators from the medical examiner's office ruled the incident was an accident. The train was not able to stop until just west of N. 63rd St., the report says.

The report notes that the railroad crossing lights appeared functional with gates down across the intersection. Lights were flashing and bells were ringing. The crossing gates didn't spread across the pedestrian sidewalk.

Police found a pair of plastic 3-D glasses at the front of the train, but it's unknown if they're related to the accident, the report said.

According to the boy's mother, Joey had asthma, but no hearing or vision problems and no history of suicidal thoughts or depression.

His mother told investigators that Joey had left his home in the morning as usual and "there was nothing out of the ordinary," the report stated. "She states he is a good kid, with no behavioral or medical problems."

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"Hidden Tosa" is a semi-regular feature where reporters Rory Linnane or Rachel Minske explore the closed down and closed off parts of Wauwatosa.

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