4-year-old survives being hit by train

Doctors call this 4-year-old Atlanta boy Superman.

He either has to be made of steel or truly is blessed to have survived getting hit by a train, doctors told the boy’s mom.

Elijah Anderson was playing outside his northwest Atlanta home on Nov. 5 when his dog Poochy ran off.

Elijah chased after the Jack Russell Terrier as it ran behind his Lamar Avenue home toward the train tracks on Wilson Boulevard.

Like most 4-year-olds, the boy was more focused on the dog than his surroundings and didn’t see the train coming, his mom Shantinerri Anderson said.

The conductor of the CSX train told police he saw the boy, but couldn’t stop the train in time. The 5,229-foot long train was travelling west at about 30 mph when it struck Elijah, throwing him from the tracks, police said.

“He couldn’t even cry because it hurt so bad,” his mom told the AJC on Thursday. “His eyes were closed and he couldn’t move.”

Poochy was not hurt.

Paramedics rushed Elijah to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston in critical condition. He was treated for a concussion and received several stitches in his head, according to an Atlanta Police report.

Within 24 hours, his condition was upgraded to good, police said.

And two days later, Elijah was back home, begging his mom to let him go outside with Poochy, Anderson said.

Elijah’s 13-year-old sister was babysitting the twins when the accident occurred, according to the police report.

“It was numerous things going through my head,” Anderson said. “His [twin] sister was more scared than he was. She wouldn’t move. She was very frightened.”

On Thursday, Elijah and his twin sister, Eliesha, ran around, yelling about Sponge Bob.

“He’s able to run and play,” his mom said. “He’s being a normal child now.”

The only sign of the accident is a large scar on his forehead.

Police said CSX was not at fault and did not file any charges.

It takes a mile for the average freight train traveling 55 mph to stop, according to Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit that promotes train safety.

“There was no way they could have stopped for that little boy,” said Jennie Glasgow, the Georgia coordinator for Operation Lifesaver. “People don’t have the right of way on the tracks. They are breaking the law and risking their lives.”

Despite investigators’ findings, Anderson said she plans to file a lawsuit. She and her attorney, Fred Lerner, declined to discuss the suit.

“There’s no fence and I’m very scared about that,” she said. “I want them to put up a fence and I want them to apologize.”

CSX spokesman Gary Sease said he could not comment on the fence because of the threat of litigation, but said that most railroads don’t install fences.

“We have 21,000 miles of track in 23 states. It’s not practical to fence all of it,” he told the AJC on Thursday. “We’re just so thrilled the little boy was not seriously injured.”

Elijah and Eliesha are no longer allowed outside without mom. Anderson said she tries to take the children to nearby Anderson Park more, but mostly the twins stay inside.

“He can play, but he can’t hit his head,” the 30-year-old mother said.

Last year, 452 pedestrians died after being hit by trains. Georgia ranked tenth in the U.S. for the highest number of pedestrian fatalities by train with 15 deaths, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Another eight pedestrians were injured in 2008 after being struck by a train.

On Thursday, Anderson was preparing to take the twins Christmas shopping.

“I’m so blessed. He’s so blessed,” the mom said. “We have all the presents we need.”

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