Cops: Rome teen killed while playing chicken with train

A 17-year-old Rome boy died early Sunday morning in what police say was a game of chicken with a train.

Rome Police Lt. John Walters said Malik Cortez Johnson was part of a group of five or six local teenagers lying down on the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks at Calahan Street and North Broad Street on the north side of the city. Walters said the teens apparently were playing chicken with an oncoming train and daring each other to be the last to get up.

“He waited too late it and it kind of sucked him back in,” Walters said of Johnson.

Johnson was hit by the train at 12:28 a.m. Sunday and died at the scene. Police interviewed the other teenagers who took part in the stunt, but no charges have been filed, Walters said.

Norfolk Southern is conducting its own investigation of the incident, he said.

Johnson was a student at Rome Middle School. His parents came to the scene shortly after the accident, Walters said.

“These two parents were both at work. They had no clue their child was out,” he said.

The area where the accident occurred is flanked by commercial buildings but near residential areas on either side. The tracks run through the city and are largely unfenced.

Walters said there are plenty of videos on the Internet showing teens playing chicken with trains, but he said he is not sure why these teens took part in the dangerous stunt. He said the behavior has not been trending among youth in Rome.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.