Police release new details after teens killed on Chesterfield tracks

Chesterfield County
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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Authorities have released new details surrounding the deaths of two teenagers who were struck and killed by an Amtrak train in Chesterfield County. 

The incident occurred at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May, 9, near Chester Village Drive in Chester.

Chesterfield Police told 8News that the teens, who have been identified as 13-year-old Presley A. Trent and 18-year-old Samuel W. Rivas, were standing on the tracks with a group of people when they were struck by an approaching Amtrak train. 

Investigators later determined the teens were waiting for a freight train to pass and didn’t hear or see the Amtrak train approaching from the opposite direction.

Police said video shows someone aboard the freight train attempted to alert the Amtrak train of the teens on the tracks. 

Authorities said the remains of the teens were “not identifiable” when first responders arrived at the scene.

Rivas, 18, was a former student at Thomas Dale High School who transferred to Clover Hill where he was currently a senior.

His mother told 8News her son was in the JROTC program and had aspirations of joining the Marines. She added that he had a big heart and was well-liked. 

Trent, 13, was a seventh-grade student and softball player at Elizabeth Davis Middle School. 

Her family said the 13-year-old loved her family, longboarding and being outside. 

All three schools issued statements Thursday regarding the teens’ passing. You can find those at the bottom of this post. 

Residents who live in the area say people often use the path along the tracks as a shortcut.

“It’s a horrible situation, really tragic … heartbreaking,” area resident David Lowman said. “They certainly were doing something and weren’t paying any attention; that has to be what it was.

“These young people, there are going to be more of them that walk through here tomorrow,” Lowman added. “They’ll get off the school bus and want something at the library, and that’s a shortcut.”

Linda Freeman said both Amtrak and freight trains frequently pass through the area, though she’s never recalled an incident like this taking place.

“It’s shocking,” she said. “For as far as I’ve been living here, this is the first time anything like this has ever happened this close to us.”

According to an Amtrak spokesperson, the company’s Palmetto train 90 was traveling from Savannah, Georgia to New York when it came into contact with persons trespassing on the tracks at mile marker 12.3 in Chester just before 5 p.m.

No injuries to the 123 passengers or crew members on board have been reported. 

Amtrak Police are working with the Chesterfield County Police and CSX to investigate the incident.

Anyone with information should contact the Chesterfield County Police Department at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660 or through the P3 app.

Amtrak used the incident as a reminder about the importance of exercising caution around railroad tracks and crossings. Each year, about 2,000 people are killed or injured in grade crossing and trespassing incidents nationwide.  


Thomas Dale High School Statement

“TDHS Parents, We learned yesterday evening of the sudden death of one of our former students, Samuel Rivas.  While Samuel was a senior at Clover Hill High he had attended Thomas Dale in grades 9-11 and he had been very active in our JROTC program.  School counselors were available during the school day today to talk with students about their feelings related to this incident. They will continue to be available as long as it is needed. The school’s student support staff also has materials available to help parents discuss grief and the associated reactions. Sensitivity to your student’s reaction to this difficult situation is critical.  We encourage our parents and community to continue to provide support to our students in the coming days.  Please let us know if your student needs additional assistance.” 


Clover Hill High School Statement

“Good afternoon CAVALIER families: This is Debbie Marks, principal of Clover Hill High School and the Math and Science High School sending sad information that we learned last night regarding the death of one of our students, Samuel Rivas.  Samuel was relatively new to Clover Hill, joining us this year for his senior year.  Students at our school were talking about Samuel’s death this morning in classes that he was enrolled with our counselors and fellow classmates.  Students were provided the opportunity to go to the library to meet with our student support services team if they needed to talk about their feelings.  As needed, students were allowed to contact their parents.  In the coming days we expect questions concerning his death.  School counselors will continue to be available to talk with students who need support and if needed provide materials to assist parents with discussing grief and other reactions that children may have at a time like this.  As always I know the CAVALIER community will provide support to our students, faculty, staff, administration, and families in the coming days.  Please alert me if your child needs additional assistance Friday at school or anytime in the future.”


Elizabeth Davis Middle School

“Dear Elizabeth Davis Middle School families, We learned last night of the death of one of our students, Presley Trent.  Presley was a seventh grader at Elizabeth Davis Middle School and will be missed by many. She loved school and had a positive impact on many here and in the Chester community.  Students at our school were talking about Presley’s death this morning. Teachers in each classroom acknowledged the passing, and students were provided the opportunity to go to the library to meet with our student support services team if they needed to talk about their feelings. As needed, students were allowed to contact their parents.  In the coming days we can expect probing questions about death.  Sensitivity to your child’s reaction to this difficult situation is critical. School counselors will continue to be available in the coming days to talk with students who need support. The school’s student support staff also has materials available to help parents discuss grief and the associated reactions.  We encourage our parents and community to continue to provide support to our students in the coming days.  Please let us know if your child needs additional assistance Friday at school.”

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