A California high school couple on their way to a dance on Friday were walking on train tracks when an approaching freight train caught them unawares. The 16-year-old boy tried to push his girlfriend out of the way and was struck and killed immediately.
The girl, also 16, suffered critical injuries, a hospital spokesman confirmed on Sunday, the New York Daily News reports.
Mickayla Friend and her boyfriend—who was not officially identified but is believed to be Mateus Moore, according to Facebook posts—were to attend a Sadie Hawkins Day dance at their Marysville, Calif., high school. Before the dance, they headed to a store, using rail tracks as a footpath when a train bore down on them from behind. Mickayla’s date tried to push her to safety, but she suffered critical injuries.
She was flown to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where hospital spokesman Gary Zavoral said she was still in critical condition, the Associated Press reports.
“It’s her first boyfriend and her first love,” Alithya Friend, Mickayla’s sister, told news station KCRA . “And she just got it taken away from her in an instant.”
Witnesses and authorities told the news station that the train conductor blew the horn and applied the emergency brakes but that the train could not stop in time. Marysville police Chief David Baker told AP that investigators are looking into whether the pair was distracted by headphones or something else as the train approached.
“The engineer was on the horn. … Then finally, they both looked back at the same time,” witness Sean Stark told the station. “They would have both been underneath that train if he didn’t push her out of the way at the last second.”
Mickayla’s sister told the news station that the family is struggling with the tragedy.
“You can’t imagine getting the worst call in your life, knowing that you just dropped your sister off to go to a dance that was supposed to be a special, amazing night for her and her boyfriend of a year,” she told the station. “And then you get a call that says he’s deceased and she’s in critical condition.”