Exclusive: Teen witnessed friend killed by train
LIVONIA - Disturbing details are emerging about how a well-known teen nearly killed in a duck hunting accident two years ago was killed after a train hit him Sunday.
Investigators with Union Pacific said a ladder at the front end of the train hooked on to 17-year old Brandt Torres throwing him under the tracks and running over him. It happened as Torres was placing coins down on the track Sunday.
April Grimmer was with Brandt, and is trying to forget what she saw Sunday.
"I can't stop thinking about it," Grimmer said. "That's all I'm thinking about."
Grimmer said she was in the car with Brandt Torres when he decided to stop at the tracks and try to place coins there.
"We was riding back getting ready to go home, stopped by a train," Grimmer recalled. "We were sitting there and he said, i'm about to flip a quarter under it."
That decision to place coins on the track has the Livonia community once again devastated. Torres sat down with WBRZ two years ago, after he was shot in the head by a friend during a duck hunting trip. His recovery became an inspiration to the community.
"I remember my brother talking about I got shot and everything, I never knew that," Torres said in a January 2013 interview.
Aside from the bandage on his head and missing part of his skull, Torres was walking and talking. On Sunday, the progress he made recovering from that shooting came to an end.
"He got out of the car, went by the train," Grimmer said. "Put the quarter under it, and Michael was talking to me about Brandt. We both looked back he was laying there. As soon as we looked the train hit him. I couldn't even talk. Me and Michael looked at each other."
The Union Pacific Train was heading to Avondale, and after several hours of investigating a fresh crew was brought in and the train proceeded to its destination.
On Monday, the Livonia and Maringouin communities spent the day mourning.
"It just hurt so bad," Brian Bergeron said. "It hurts to even talk about knowing what these people are going through. I know being a father and a parent the hardest thing is losing a loved one, a child especially."
Livonia High School Principal Stacy Gueho said the day has been incredibly hard for students and faculty members who knew Brandt Torres. Three grief counselors were brought in to deal with the situation, and those counselors will be here the rest of the week.
"He always had a smile on his face," Grimmer recalled.
Torres' brother showed up at the scene where his little brother lost his life. He was too grief stricken to talk. Tonight, the community is ready to stand behind the Torres family again. As for Grimmer, she has a fresh and horrible respect for trains.
"It taught me a lesson. It was a stupid idea," Grimmer said. "I don't think he would get ran over or anything."
Union Pacific said their investigation will take a few more days. The conductor of the train was interviewed. The company is also interviewing first responders.
A balloon release is scheduled in Livonia tonight to remember Torres. WBRZ will have more on that at 10 p.m.