Train kills Calif. teen, Jenna Betti, trying to get dropped phone

12:00 AM, Mar 4, 2014   |    comments
Jenna Betti was a star soccer player at Martinez Junior High School, east of San Francisco. (Photo: Jenna Betti via Twitter)
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SAN FRANCISCO - An eighth-grade girl was killed by a freight train Sunday as she tried to retrieve the cellphone she had dropped on the tracks.

Jenna Betti, 14, of Martinez, was sitting on the tracks with her boyfriend about 5 p.m. Sunday as the train approached, her mother, Dena, wrote on Facebook.

"She didn't judge the approach, and the train creates a vacuum, we were told, and it sucks you in," Dena Betti wrote. "We are beyond devastated."

The engineer sounded the horn as the five locomotives, which were headed from Richmond to Fresno but were not pulling any cars, rounded a bend in the East Bay community north of Oakland, BNSF Railway spokeswoman Lena Kent told the Contra Costa Times. The two teens moved, but Jenna "went back onto the tracks to retrieve something."

Jenna, an eighth grader, was a top soccer player and a good student who "also had a smile and was kind of the life of the party, in a very positive way," Martinez Junior High School Principal Jonathan Eagan told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Students were urged to wear pink, her favorite color, in her honor Monday, and flags were flown at half-staff. They were notified of her death during a morning announcement because "probably half of our students don't have social media, so they were completely unaware when they arrived on campus," Eagan told the Contra Costa Times.

Jenna's Twitter account indicates she and the boy she was with may been in the process of breaking up.

Condolences poured in to her close friend Devon Rowe.

"Trying to stay strong and keep a smile on my face because I know thats what she'd want," she tweeted.

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