MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) A group of five "train hoppers" made a fatal mistake Tuesday morning.
"They were all trying to catch a ride that was heading east out of here," fellow train hopper Derek Dunn told Local 15. "They jumped into one of the gondolas, which is a big bucket train car."
The box-like container train car was full of steel I-beams.
"They were in the void space between the I-beams and the wall of the gondola," Dunn said. "They thought the train was leaving."
Instead of leaving, the train came back into the train yard, shifting and bumping into other train cars. The jolting of the train car shifted the I-beams with tragic results.
"[The I-beams] crushed them, it essentially just crushed them," Dunn said.
Three of the train hoppers were killed and one was rushed to the hospital.
A fifth person had hopped on a different train car and walked away without a scratch.
"We ended talking to him and he was like 'Yeah this is my friend's banjo', and there was blood all over the banjo," Dunn said. "He just seemed out of it. He was just in disbelief. He couldn't even accept that it happened. It was that bad."
Dunn said he met the group of train hoppers on a recent trip through New Orleans.
"In a sense all train riders are like a community because there's only a handful of us," Dunn said.
He heard one of the victims was a rookie train hopper, and it may have been his first time "riding" a train.