Ninteen-year-old Fredzania Thompson was struck and killed during a photoshoot in Navasota, Texas. yesterday when she stepped in front of an oncoming Union Pacific train, according to KBTX News.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time a photoshoot on train tracks has resulted in disaster. In 2015, sixteen-year-old high-school student John DeReggi was killed in Montgomery County, Maryland while taking photos on the train tracks with his girlfriend, and Union Pacific has even created a safety page on their website dedicated to deterring people from using train tracks for portraits and selfies.
Despite the fact that 265 people were killed by trains in 2016, and 798 people were injured, according to Operation Lifesaver, train tracks continue to be a popular destination for photographers. Of course, artists are often willing to put their own health and safety at risk in order to capture once-in-a-lifetime images, and can often be found jumping from airplanes, swimming with sharks, or dodging bullets in war-torn countries, but tragedies like this one bring up a moral dilemma for working professionals: does a professional photographer have a responsibility to counsel against and/or refuse their clients portrait sessions in places of known danger? One has to wonder when the cost of taking portraits on railroad tracks will finally become too high.
Image used with the permission of Matt Ackerman of Crimson Flick Photography.