- Associated Press - Friday, July 4, 2014

KIRKWOOD, Mo. (AP) - Amtrak crew members waited too long to blow their train’s whistle and failed to slow down in time to avoid striking and killing a 14-year-old Missouri boy, the teen’s parents claim in a lawsuit.

Cameron Vennard of the St. Louis suburb of Oakland was killed May 30, 2012, when he was hit by the Missouri River Runner as he used a popular shortcut to downtown Kirkwood, where he was planning to meet with friends.

An Amtrak spokesman told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1xmDjWv ) that at the time of the accident, the train’s engineer sounded his horn but was unable to stop. Police said Cameron was wearing earphones and probably didn’t hear the train approaching from behind.

In a lawsuit filed against Amtrak late last month, Cameron’s parents, Daryl Vennard and Susan Herrin, claim that although the crew on the westbound train saw their son at least a quarter-mile away, the crew “waited a needlessly and dangerously long time before blowing its whistle” and “failed to take any effective action to slow or stop the train.”

An Amtrak spokeswoman said Thursday the company does not comment on pending legal matters.

The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages. Vennard declined to comment when reached Thursday, but in 2012 he said he was stunned by the tremendous support his family had received from the community, and by the complete silence of the railroads.

Vennard complained in 2012 that trains are allowed to travel up to 50 mph through his neighborhood, while nearby residential streets have 25 mph speed limits.

The family’s lawyer, Pat Hagerty, said Thursday that Cameron could have safely gotten off the track if he had just another half-second warning.

“The video shows him trying to get off the track,” Hagerty said. “It’s a very tragic situation.”

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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