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MARTINEZ (CBS SF) — A 14-year-old girl was apparently trying to retrieve her cellphone when she was fatally struck by a freight train traveling through Martinez Sunday evening.
Jenna Betti, an 8th grader at nearby Martinez Junior High School, was pronounced deceased near the railroad tracks after emergency crews received a report that a female had been struck by a train near Old Orchard and Howe roads at about 5 p.m., police said.
The freight train’s conductor told authorities that two people got off the tracks as the train approached but that for some reason, the girl stepped back on the tracks.
A family friend said she ran back to get her phone and was sucked under the train as it approached.
Hundreds of tweets have been dedicated to her memory with posts using #pinkforjenna. Many classmates wore pink – her favorite color – to school Monday in her honor.
“Jenna was a vivacious beautiful young lady who was always smiling and had lots of friends-she was a very popular girl,” said Martinez Junior High Principal Jonathan Eagan, who was also the girls elementary principal at one point. “I really can’t put it in words. To be honest, it’s hard…on a personal level.”
Rami Muth, the superintendent of the Martinez Unified School District, said that grief counselors will be at the school.
“It’s a hard issue to deal with students. We want them to know that it was a tragic accident and that her life will be remembered,” Muth said.
The incident remains under investigation by the freight company, BNSF Railway.