Woman killed by train identified

Police suspect Saturday night death was suicide
Alissa Widman Neese
Jan 12, 2014


Huron police have identified the woman killed by a train Saturday night in Huron Township.

Robyn Hodgkinson, 45, of Huron, died at about 10:20 p.m. Saturday after walking in front of the train near Rye Beach Road, Huron police Chief Bob Lippert said.

While investigating, every indication led police to believe the act was a suicide, Lippert said. Hodgkinson's car was parked in the grass near the tracks.

The Erie County coroner will provide the final ruling of death at a later date.


If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Line is 800-273-TALK.

The local Firelands Mental Health Hotline is 800-826-1306.


Original post, 11:45 p.m. Saturday:

A train struck and killed a person in Huron Township late Saturday night, but officials aren't releasing any details about the situation.

Huron police and firefighters and Erie County Sheriff's deputies responded to the railroad tracks on Rye Beach Road, near BGSU Firelands, where a train was stopped at a crossing, blocking traffic at about 10:30 p.m. 

When the Register arrived at the scene, a covered body was lying at the crossing and a car had been parked in the grass nearby. The Erie County coroner transported the body from the scene.

Deputies referred the Register to Huron police, who said the incident is a death investigation and they would not release any further information. They told the Register to call Huron police Chief Bob Lippert on Sunday morning.

They wouldn't confirm if the person was a man or woman, although police scanner traffic indicated the person was a woman.



I feel bad for the people who had to see the aftermath of this. I couldn't do it.


Damn, I wish ppl would not choose this option for suicide. The train employees will have to live with this the rest of their lives. I feel for those who believe there are no other options but death; however, harming others in the process is completely uncalled for. My condolences to the person's friends and family, as well as to the employees of the train.

Really are you ...

What if the person loved watching trains? What if this person was standing beside the cross bucks? As the train approached, the alert system activated, and the arm that extends across the oncoming traffic portion of the road. What if that arm karate chopped that person in the head?


That's a lot of what ifs!!!!!!!!!!!!




Do you know something we don't. I did not read that anywhere in the article.

Common Sense

It may not be there in black and white, but it is a common scenario. Someone "near the crossing" seems to indicate that the person was close enough to hear and avoid the train. Also, the writer noted that an empty car was nearby.


Yeh it pretty much spells it out...car parked nearby in grass, killed near crossing...




The car was the victims.....my sympathy to the family..


people that commit suicide are not in their right minds at the time nor are they thinking about how their actions will affect others. they feel desperate and that death is the only option. it's very sad.


Geez and to think the Register didn't make it on time to take photos. I bet somebody on the staff is severely disappointed. Sick sensationism!


sensationalism. and pics would have been great!


If you really want to see pics like that, go to the Bestgore dot com site. The only thing I don't like is the naked ads on the right. You don't have to login or sign up or anything.


Unfortunately they did...thank goodness the police kept them back.


The insatiable appetite for this is sickening


If this was self inflicted, I'm no expert, but I don't think they put much thought in how it gets done, they just want it over quickly. I once had a wonderful geometry teacher in high school. One day someone saw him sitting on railroad tracks with a box of tissues just before a freight train hit him. No one ever found out why he did it. My sincerest condolences to the family.


My sympathy to the train crew as well .

No one ever thinks what this kind of action (whether deliberate or not OR dare trying to beat the train) does to the guys aboard the trains. And lord, knows this newspaper never ever runs a story from that perspective.

....Speaking as a railroader's kid.

Alissa Widman Neese's picture
Alissa Widman Neese

Starryeyes83, if your parent or anyone they know has been in a tragic situation involving a train suicide, I would certainly be willing to talk to them and write a story from that perspective, if they are willing to talk. My email is widman@sanduskyregister.com and my phone number is 419-609-5849.

I think that is a valuable perspective and it's one I've wanted to pursue for a long time, but I've never been in contact with anyone willing to talk about it.


Okay!!!!!!!!!!!!! Star?


Alissa, Thank you so much for the offer but this was thirty plus years ago and most of them (as far as I know) are gone now, I wouldn't even begin to know who all my father worked with. I wish I did.

However, you have an opportunity to talk to the folks who have been involved in the recent events. I will tell you one thing for certain; I watched my Dad go through hell due to actions that were not the fault of the train crew.

Not once - but twice.

And you are correct it's like trying to get a Vet to open up about combat stories (my Dad is also a Korea vet) , most of them don't wish to relive it. Dad is getting up there and his memory isn't great.

Alissa Widman Neese's picture
Alissa Widman Neese

Starryeyes83, thank you for sharing your story and I'm sorry to hear you and your family had to endure this.

I will do my best to try and find someone who could share this information with me, if they're up to it. I agree that it would be a valuable perspective to share with our readers, but unfortunately, as you said, it's easier said than done.


Thank you, Alissa, Good luck, keep in mind though Legally they may not be allowed to say anything public for a period of several years.

The RR headquarters may provide you information in regards to company mental health counselors if they have them , as might the Brotherhood of Conductors, Brakemen and Engineers ( I think that was the union ) for N & W RR , now called N & S. Or whichever railroad this was.

Good Luck.

Alissa Widman Neese's picture
Alissa Widman Neese

Thank you!


Alissa, I will check with a friend who is a retired engineer (30 years) to see if he has any stories he cares to share. I will give him your contact info, Kingsin

Stop It

My brother used to work out at the yard under and by Rt.4 in Bellevue as an electrician. He told me many times of seeing stuff one ought not to see on the front of the locomotives. He told me to stop at every crossing, lights, gates or not and act as if those cross-bucks were stop signs. I do. Those things don't stop on a dime and give you nine cents change.


"Don't stop on a dime".. Heard that more than once it was like A railroaders creed or something. Man, the lectures we used to get. And "Do you know how far braking distance is, young lady? Because whatever number you come up with ain't long enough". Point taken.


I know it's a big if but there's another if possibility and this is a long stretch of the imagination, but what if the car broke down and the person was walking to get to a phone to try and call someone and saw that the gates were down but thought they could get across before the train got there and didn't make it. I don't know, I guess I just don't want to think that anyone that is thinking about suicide would want to hurt someone else too. My thoughts go out to the families of both the deceased and the railroad personnel.


Thank you candleburner for another perspective. People are so quick to jump to conclusions. Prayers the the victims family and to the railroaders who witnessed this tragedy.


You're right, looooooong stretch!

Baba Booey

Yea my car broke down let me jump in front of this train and see if that fixes it.


Well I can tell you that about five years ago I lost my job, and also went through a divorce. I fell into a deep state of depression, after losing my job and my family. I have always been a very "glass is half full" happy go lucky type of person, so when the depression set in I didnt know what it was or how to live for that matter. So I thought that since I wasn't wanted or needed here on earth any more, that I would just end it. (i am in no way shape or form a selfish person) But I was planning on laying on the tracks between Campbell st. and Hayes ave. and letting the train put me out of my misery. In the mindset I was in, the employees of the train or anyone else for that matter ever crossed my mind. So the moral of my story is, please understand this can happen to anyone. With that said my heart goes out to the woman and her family, as well as the driver of the train, and anyone involved for that matter. The future never comes, the past is gone, the present is a gift, so enjoy it while you can.


I know who this was. It was a suicide. She was one of the nicest and had many friends. She had a broken heart and had been working for quite some time at getting better. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to beat her demons back last night.


ashamed, That was my first thought, after reading the article. I hope no one judges her, because unless you've walked in her shoes, you have no idea what she has been dealing with. I only wish that I knew her so that I could have talked to her and let her know I've been there. May she rest in peace.


There seems to be a lot of suicides lately. Has anyone else felt the same way? This is a very trying time & I think if you see someone who seems suicidal maybe try to reach out to them. A lot of times family members do not want to get involved (I know from experience.)

dorothy gale

Very sad.


Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.


Except for some people, depression is not a temporary problems. Some unfortunate people suffer from it most of their lives.


As a society, we do not give mental health issues the attention they deserve. Unfortunately, there is still too much of a stigma attached to ppl suffering from depression, bi-polar, etc. We need to work together to get ppl the help they need and offer them support, not judgement. It is OKAY to ask for help if you feel you cannot get past emotions like sadness, anger, betrayal, etc. As a society we need to understand that someone suffering from mental health problems cannot "fake it 'til they make it," adopt a new perspective ("see the good in the world!" or "focus on the positive!" or "think of all the ppl who have it worse than you," or "suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem"), pray their feelings away, and so on. Some ppl need legitimate help and actually feel worse when platitudes don't work for them (guilt about their inability to be happy, feelings of inadequacy when "praying for the answers" works for other and not them)....it's time we begin working together to help each other.


Very true!! Not to mention the biological components that can cause depression that have nothing to do with life events, one's outlook or personality, etc. It's time we deal with this as a medical disease, like we do with alzheimer's (sp?), and quit blaming the person suffering!

Julie R.

I can remember years & years ago a young woman going through a divorce committed suicide by standing in front of a train with her 3 kids. The kids were toddlers --- one was a baby. I think ~ but I'm not sure ~ it was the track by Huron Cement. That was so sad and this is, too.


She was a wonderful woman! I only wish there was something that could have made her see what a blessing she truly was. She will be sorely missed. Rest in peace Robyn. Sit in your mother's arms and find the peace and love you were seeking.


This was posted on a railroad discussion group I belong to. It was written by a BNSF Railway engineer on 12/22/13: "This past week, the week before Christmas I killed a person at a crossing in Iowa. The man was on a motorized bicycle and approaching the crossing fast when I noticed him. I made the comment to my Conductor that "that guy on the bike was hauling ass". At that time we seen him look at us and then he lowered his body to hopefully speed up I guess. I was blowing the horn when I realized that he was not going to stop. I then lowered my head and laid on the horn as I could not watch. I put the train in emergency. It seemed like everything was in slow motion and I was so scared and just about the time I thought that he made it across in front of us, I heard the sound that many crews over the years have heard before me. I raised my head and screamed the "F" word over and over and started to shake. Did I cry? Damn right I did. I just killed a human being. Never ever thought it would be me after 13 years on the railroad. I have read the stories from other crews in the past. A person who has never been in this situation before will NEVER understand what it is like till it happens to them. It took what seemed like forever for emergency personnel to get to us as we were in the country. It did not matter, I thought, as a life was gone. It will not be a Christmas like any other this year as I am having hard time with this as it keeps replaying in my head. I pray to God that I never have to go through this ever again. I pray for a family that has lost someone important to them."
The victim's problems are over. The train crew and the victim's family's problems are just beginning.


I was told there was a note left in the car and some other things I would rather not say on here due to speculation. Again, I heard this from a co worker who knew her well Probably why it was said there were things pointing towards it being a suicide. None the less my condolences go out to her family and friends. Very sad.


Sometimes people are smiling on the outside but crying on the inside. Such a tragedy..prayers for the family and the railroad employees.


I find it in this day and age that people are taking what is going on in their lives way more seriously than life itself. Sad for everyone.


It's not just depression, whether temporary or long term, that causes suicides. There are also those who are desperate for solutions they don't have to problems that seem insurmountable (and maybe some of them are). When you're out of options, or think you are, it may seem that there's only one thing left.

Unfortunately, while the person who succeeds in a suicide actually DOES have their problems "solved," they leave behind a host of other problems for people they rarely mean to hurt. The train operators KNOW this nightmare isn't their fault, and yet I'll bet they feel terrible. Friends and family must ALSO know it's not their fault, and yet I've seen families agonize literally for YEARS about what they might have done differently.

Please, please, please: If you feel so terrible that suicide seems viable to you, seek help! There's family, friends, clergy, counselors, and hotlines immediately available. If not one of those things, then another is there to help you. The vast majority of problems truly CAN be solved. What can't ever truly be fixed is the open-ended guilt, sorrow, regret, and pain of those left behind.

Julie R.

My maternal grandfather was an engineer for years on the B&O railroad. I know it used to upset him whenever he hit an animal ~ a few times it was deer. One time a herd of cows were on the tracks. That really upset him --- he was still talking (and shuddering) about it when he was in his mid-80's. I can't even imagine what he would have gone through had he ever hit a person.


I seperated from my wife for about a month once and your world completely changes. Everything you knew before goes away and you loose your identity for a minute. It is overwhelming at first. She didnt make it past that first hump..prayers to her family