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Congo refugee killed by Metro train entered track for reasons unknown

Dan Almasi/WBFO News

No foul play is expected in the death of an 18-year-old Tapestry Charter School student who was killed on a Metro Rail track at the Utica Street Station Monday night. The deceased was identified Tuesday as Kanu Kasonko, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Cameras show him stepping off the platform and walking, then running, onto the southbound track.

There are systems in place to prevent such incidents, but little could have been done to prevent Kasonko's death due to the limited range of the train system’s surveillance cameras, according to NFTA Police Chief George Gast.

“We have alarms in place that are designed to prevent this type of thing, but as in the case in a lot of areas, if somebody has the will to get in there, they can,” Gast said.

Authorities say the reason for Kasonko entering the tunnel is unknown, but he may have been lying on the track when he was struck by the train around 9 p.m. The investigation is ongoing.

"The individual in question willfully entered the prohibited area of the track bed on his own volition," Gast said.

The train travels at speeds of 40 to 50 mph. There is a 14-inch gap between the train and the wall which makes it possible for a person on the tracks to avoid being struck by a train.

The man's mother and older brother were notified early Tuesday morning. Gast says the mother speaks limited English. Gast says the point of contact was at the bottom section of the train, which leaves his department to believe Kasonko may have been laying on the track. Toxicology tests will be part of the investigation.

Kasonko’s death is the second in the history of the train system, the last being a suicide in 1990. Metro Rail service was interrupted Monday night, but resumed normal operations Tuesday.

Tapestry Charter School is offering grief counseling for students, families and staff through 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and again Wednesday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The school community was notified of the student’s death through e-mails and Robocalls.