Train ladder strikes boy in the head in Phoenixville

A boy was struck in the head by a ladder attached to the side of a freight train in Phoenixville on Tuesday.

The 13-year-old boy was walking along tracks with a few friends when he suffered a glancing blow from a ladder that stuck out from the side of a box car of a Norfolk Southern Railroad train, police said. The boy was awake and talking but on the edge of consciousness when the Phoenixville Fire Company and the Phoenixville Police responded to the end of Railroad Street shortly after 5 p.m., officials said.

A Trappe Fire Company ambulance took the boy to nearby Friendship Field, where a helicopter picked him up to take him to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said Fire Chief John Buckwalter. Police say a portion of the boy's skull was visible after the accident. His condition was not immediately known late Wednesday morning.

Police said the victim and his friends were returning from an afternoon of swimming as they walked along the tracks, which run along with Schuylkill River. Trains in the area travel slowly - 25 m.p.h at the most - because they have to navigate curves, a tunnel and a bridge over the river, said Police Chief William Mossman.

The group was walking in the direction of the train, and the boy likely never saw the ladder coming, Mossman said.

"He was too close," Mossman said. "There's no doubt about it."

- Michaelle Bond