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Vigil for teen killed by train
Elke Bell.1
Elke Bell, mother of Steffen Busser (with hands to face) is comforted by a friend as the group listens to Army Chap. Steven Hokana, who spoke at the site where Bell’s son was killed in a train accident Monday. - photo by Photo by Lewis Levine


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Family and friends came out Wednesday night to say goodbye and remember a teen killed in a train accident earlier this week.
About 75 friends and relatives gathered at the home of Steffen Busser, where he lived with his parents Jerry and Elke Bell to remember the 16-year-old whose life was cut short when he darted across a railroad track in Walthourville Monday night.
The crowd, made up mostly of friends of the teen, stood quiet as they listened to Elke Bell speak of her son, who was getting his life together by seeking responsibility through the Fort Stewart Youth Challenge Program.
“He had his rough times, but he was getting his life together, and I know he touched each of you who are tonight,” she told the group of teens, many who had tears in there eyes.
“I want to tell parents to hold onto your children. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow. Hold your children tight.”
Busser’s girlfriend Mariebelle Rodriguez recalled the last conversation she had with Busser the night he was killed. She received the call around 8:21 p.m.
“He asked me to meet him at the gas station. I told him OK after I put the baby to sleep, when I tried to call him back around 8:45 pm he never answered.” Rodriguez said.
She became concerned after trying to reach Busser who never ignored her calls.
“I kept trying until I eventually called his house and spoke with his dad who told me he wasn’t home, he thought he was with me.”
The next morning Rodriguez called his home and spoke with Elke who told her Steffen was killed by a train.
“It was a nightmare, I thought I was asleep and it was a bad dream.” The last words Busser told Rodriguez whom he planned on marrying was, “I love you.”
Busser’s father Jerry Bell told the group, “I don’t want anyone to have a thought in their head Steffen did this on purpose. He had a lot going for him.
Georgia State Patrol Trooper, J.A. Lewis said according to witnesses Busser had been jogging on the yellow line on Talmadge Road. When he came to the railroad crossing the arms where down and an Amtrak train heading north to Washington D.C. was approaching.
“The witness said he continued to jog in place, looked left and then darted in front of the train apparently thinking he could beat it,” Lewis said. Busser was struck on the front left side of the engine and thrown 189 feet where.
The group which assembled at the home held two floral arraignments in the shape of crosses and walked the route Busser jogged as he made his way to meet Rodriguez. They marched silently, led by Liberty County Sheriffs Deputy Wade Long. As they approached the railroad crossing an Amtrak train passed blowing its whistle roughly around the same time Busser was struck.
When they reached the site where his body came to rest, the paint outline still visible, Jerry Bell knelt down and covered his eyes. One by one friends picked up stones where his body had laid.
Army Chaplain Steven Hokana of the 4th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division spoke briefly to the group who embraced each other in a circle trying to make sense of the tragedy.
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