KENNER, La. (WVUE) - The family of a man killed by a train Tuesday afternoon in Kenner does not want his tragedy to go in vain. They say they hope his death serves as a warning of caution to others.
Family members of 75-year-old Alfred Lewis struggle to understand his sudden death.
"It's crazy. I still can't believe it," Donovan Lewis, Lewis' son said.
"I was shocked, and I wanted to know if my uncle suffered, you know? That went through my mind, and I kept saying, why Alfred? Why Alfred? Because Alfred was a good good good Christian person," Deborah Lewis said.
Police said Lewis was a passenger in a truck struck by an Amtrak train around 2:20 p.m. Tuesday. They said a 76-year-old woman was driving.
“The guardrails were down, the lights were on. It’s still unknown at this point if she even knew the train was coming, but obviously the guardrails were down,” Lt. Michael Cunningham with the Kenner Police Department said.
He said the train slammed into the bed of the truck, and Lewis was ejected, even though he had his seatbelt on.
"The vehicle was basically torn in half. The bed of the truck was thrown approximately 60 feet into the driveway of a house near the railroad tracks," Cunningham said.
Police said the driver was friends with Lewis, and they believe she was giving him a ride home from the food pantry.
"It was senseless, you know? And in the end, my dad's gone, you know? He's not coming back, you know? I'm not going to hate someone for that, for a mistake that catastrophic. I'm pretty sure her family is destroyed too," Lewis said.
"It was a very foolish act, to go around a railing and red lights is flashing, and that is the reason my uncle is no longer here," said Deborah Lewis, "I'm angry. I'm angry about that."
Lewis said she had a very close relationship with her uncle.
"He loved his kids so much, he was very active in the church. Alfred fed people. Like I said, he would give you the shirt off his back," Lewis said.
Lewis' son and niece said they would give anything to see him again.
"The hardest part is knowing that my uncle is gone. I can't talk to him anymore," Lewis said.
"Our last conversation, he told me that I could talk to him any time, you know? Day or night, three o'clock in the morning I'll call and he'll answer. I wish I could call him again," Lewis said.
They hope this tragedy will prevent others from making the same mistake.
"If you're near a train track, and that railing is down, and those red lights are flashing, be patient. don't cross it. You cannot beat the train," Lewis said.
Police said the driver went from critical but stable condition to guarded condition Wednesday afternoon, and investigators will interview her about what happened.
They said she could face criminal charges.