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Bluffton couple killed by train in suicide pact

A young couple left several notes at their nearby Bluffton apartment before walking into the path of a train Tuesday night, police said.

Samuel Stirlen, 26, and his wife, Kayla, 24, were struck about 8 p.m. after parking their white car in a nearby lot and walking to the railroad tracks, Bluffton Police Chief Tammy Schaffer said.

Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

A witness called police and said the couple approached the tracks and intentionally moved in front of the train, Schaffer said.

Notes addressed to family members that had been left at the couple’s home several blocks away confirmed suspicions they had committed suicide. Bluffton police completed their investigation Wednesday and determined the deaths a double suicide, Schaffer said.

Details about what the notes said were not available Wednesday. Schaffer said a toxicology report would be completed, but autopsies would not.

The Stirlens were married and had a young child, Schaffer said. She did not know whether the child belonged to the couple or was from another relationship. The child was being cared for by other family members, she added.

“It’s a real tragedy for our town,” she said.

Norfolk Southern officials also completed an investigation, she said.

Tuesday’s double suicide was the second fatal accident involving a Norfolk Southern train this week.

On Sunday, a young boy was killed after falling asleep on train tracks northeast of Findlay, Ohio.

Hu Sein, 13, hopped a freight train in Fort Wayne with his two friends early Sunday. When the train stopped, they decided to begin walking home, but Hu Sein became too tired to walk any farther and fell asleep on the tracks.

A short time later, he was struck and killed by an eastbound train.

jcrothers@jg.net

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