FOSTORIA - A 13-year-old Fostoria boy who cherished an award he earned in a spelling bee last year was remembered yesterday for his kindness toward his classmates and helpfulness to his teachers.
Tyler LaRue, a seventh grader at Fostoria Middle School, was killed Sunday when he was struck by a freight train while trying to cross the busy CSX tracks on South Union Street.
Tyler's death reinforced the deadly consequences of the nearly 200 trains that roll through the city.
South Union Street is crossed by two sets of double tracks, which are about 100 feet apart. Each set is guarded by lights and gates.
Tyler was a new student at Fostoria Middle School. He transferred from the Arcadia school system to the west in Hancock County.
His former Arcadia home-room teacher who had Tyler in the sixth grade, Angie Stoner, called the boy "very kind and helpful to all of the classmates and teachers."
"Tyler was also very concerned about how others in the classroom were being treated," Ms. Stone wrote in an e-mail to The Blade. "When his peers were being picked on by others, he would always say a kind word to help cheer them."
Ms. Stone said Tyler was particularly pleased at being a runner-up in the fifth-sixth-grade spelling bee last year.
"He was extremely proud of this accomplishment," she said.
Fostoria Superintendent Cynthia Lemmerman said teachers were called to a special meeting yesterday morning to alert them to the tragedy and to the availability of grief counselors for teachers and students.
Ms. Lemmerman said that because Tyler transferred to the district this year, little was known about him among his new teachers.
After the students were told, she said the school tried to maintain a regular school day.
"We tried to keep the day as normal as possible," she said.
Yesterday's observance of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks only compounded the difficulty for the 550 middle school students and their teachers, she said, while noting the personal tragedy that struck close to home.
"We want to extend our deepest sympathy for the family," she said.
Details of the youth's death were sketchy, although the investigators say he was on a bicycle waiting for a westbound train to pass about 2 p.m. Once that train passed, he began crossing the first set of tracks, but was hit by an eastbound train.
An accident report was not available yesterday, but Mayor John Davoli said Police Chief John McGuire spent most of the day at the middle school and at the accident scene.
The mayor said the tragedy points to a need to increase awareness among Fostoria students about the dangers trains pose in the city. The city will work with the schools to work closely with Operation Lifesaver, a nationwide, public information program dedicated to reducing collisions, injuries, and fatalities at rail crossings.
Mr. Davoli said the city has between 150 to 200 trains pass through the city of 14,983, which is 35 miles southeast of Toledo. The last fatality involving a pedestrian who was struck by a train occurred in November, 2005.
Nearly all of the 22 city's grade crossings are protected by lights and gates, and three overpasses have been constructed in recent years to reduce congestion caused by long trains and the danger they pose for motorists, the mayor said.
He said the equipment at the Sunday accident scene appears to have been working properly.
Tyler's family could not be reached for comment.
Mann-Hare Funeral Home in Fostoria, where the body was taken, said the family described his love of playing football and supporting the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Michigan.
Surviving are his parents, Tamara Ross and Gary E. LaRue; brothers Ryan Ani Ross and Doug Robin LaRue, and sisters, Michelle Harp and Samantha Ferguson.
Visitation will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow and the funeral will be at 10 a.m. Thursday in the funeral home.
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