An aspiring teenage model in Texas was killed by a train while she was taking photos at a railway crossing. Fredzania Thompson, 19, died on March 10 in Navasota, Texas, when she stepped out of the way of one train only to inadvertently step into the path of another at around 12:45 p.m. The town is around 70 miles northwest of Houston. The Associated Press reports that Thompson was hit by a Union Pacific train while getting out of the way of BNSF train. Her photographer was unharmed during the incident.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Her Mother Says Thompson Was Putting Her College Education on Hold to Pursue Modeling Full-Time
Thompson mother, Hakamie Stevenson, told The Eagle newspaper, that her daughter was enrolled at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas. Stevenson said that her daughter was planning to put her education on hold in order to pursue modeling full-time. Her mother added, “She was more interested in modeling. That’s definitely what she wanted to do. It’s what she had started to do the day she was deceased.”
The Eagle also reported that Thompson had been working with a local photographer and was starting to put together a portfolio. That report also mentions Thompson had turned down some modeling offers in recent times.
Thompson maintained a modeling and acting profile at Explore Talent. According to her Facebook page, Thompson was studying Kinesiology, the study of body movements, at Blinn. She was a 2015 graduate of Navasota High School. Thompson regularly updated her Facebook page with religious and inspirational messages. She is survived by her four sisters and four brothers, according to her obituary.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Navasota Assistant City Manager and Director of Public Safety Shawn Myatt said, “We believe from what witnesses are telling us that she never saw the oncoming train.” Thompson was rushed to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead.
The Navasota Examiner reports that detectives have taken statements from the photographer and other witnesses who were in the vicinity.
2. Her Fiance Says that the Couple Had Just Found Out They Were Pregnant
Thompson’s fiancee, Darnell Chatman, 25, told the Dallas Morning News that the teenager had just found out she was pregnant. Chatman told The Eagle that Thompson had called him two weeks before her death and said, “You’re going to be a dad again.”
Chatman explained that he is the father to a 7-year-old boy who was very close with Thompson. Chatman told The Eagle his son “woke up crying this morning. He thought [her death] was a dream.”
3. Friends Celebrated Thompson’s Life With a Vigil on What Would Have Been Her 20th Birthday
Since Thompson’s death, a makeshift memorial has been set up at the site of her death. She would have turned 20 three days before her death. While Thompson’s funeral was held on March 11 in Navasota. KBTX reports that a vigil was held at the site of her death on March 13. Her cousin said at the event, “She always lightened a situation. I’m going to miss her. I really am. She was always happy, never upset. She would give you her last if she could.”
4. Thompson ‘Was the Most Beautiful, Caring Person You Could Ever Meet’
Friends have been mourning Thompson en masse on social media. On the Go Fund Me page set up by Darnell Chatman he wrote that Thompson “was the most beautiful, caring person you could ever meet.” Many have taken to Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag “LongLiveZania” to celebrate her life.
While speaking to The Eagle, Chatman said, “Zanie had the most beautiful smile. I believe she would want everyone to know what a kind and caring person she is.” While at her March 13 vigil, Chatman said, “She was always trying to be the helper. That’s what I use to call her, because she was always trying to help people. When I was down, she’d always try to cheer me up. If she was down, I was there for her,” reports KBXT.
5. Over 250 People Were Killed by Trains in the U.S. in 2016
The website for the Union Pacific railway includes a section on safety when taking photos at railway tracks. It reads:
Railroad tracks may seem like a great place for a photo opportunity, but a massive locomotive coming down the tracks with no time to stop will disagree with you. You may be confident you’ll hear it in time to clear the tracks, but odds are you won’t.
While Sean Myatt told Buzzfeed, “This horrific incident is the reason they don’t want individuals and kids playing on rail tracks because trains come intermittently and you don’t know when they come. You shouldn’t be on the tracks.”
According to Operation Lifesaver, 265 people were killed in railway accidents in 2016.