PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Petersburg police on Wednesday identified a teen struck and killed by a train.
Henry De la Cruz was walking on the train tracks near the 2300 block of Buckner Street in the east Walnut Hill community when he was struck by an eastbound Norfolk Southern train around 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Grief counselors are on hand at Petersburg High School as students learned one of their classmates was struck and killed by an
oncoming train while wearing earphones. Relatives of Henry De La Cruz say the 15-year-old student played soccer and had goals of one day becoming a software engineer.
He was a teenager who simply enjoyed life, according to his cousin, who says she watched him grow up from a little boy. That's why the tragedy
on the tracks is heartbreaking for her family.
Despite battling asthma and growing up without his father, Henry De La Cruz always persevered, according to Sorina Montoya.
"Even through all of that, he had a smile on," she said.
"He was getting really excited because he's turning 16 so he was like 'I'm finally going to get my driver's license. I'm going to be able to drive,'" she recalled.
Montoa picked up the phone to call the teenager's 18-year-old brother.
"They were extremely close…He couldn't even talk. I said 'are you OK?' He was like 'I'm dying inside'. I was like 'I know'," she added.
On Social Media Wednesday, shock from those who knew him personally.
"That's tragic," one person wrote on Twitter.
"You're in a better place now," another added.
"It was holding it's horn much longer than usual," said Mike Dunno who lives near the scene.
He was there when the tragedy unfolded. He wants families to encourage their youth to steer clear of that area, which is just a couple miles away from Petersburg High.
"Do not use the railroad for an option to get to school because that's what they do. They usually get on this track and try to go to school. It's a shortcut," Dunn said.
A shortcut that claimed a 15-year-old's life.
Petersburg Police say the investigation continues but charges are not expected against the train's conductors.
Since De La Cruz had on earphones, his family believes he never heard it coming.
"Please to all of the teenagers out there, be careful. Please be careful…If you can, take one out and just leave the other one on," Montoya added.
"This train here is nothing to play with," Dunn said.
De La Cruz faithfully attended Sacred Heart Church in Richmond. At this time, no funeral arrangements have been made but the family is from Mexico and they're considering having his remains transported there.
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