MANTECA — Austin Peterson was a kid with a great sense of humor and an unforgettable smile.
“Always smiling, like, always. That’s his natural face,” said Cameron Malon, a friend of Austin’s.
He and other friends shared Peterson’s Facebook picture with FOX40.
The 15-year-old freshman, who was on the baseball, basketball and football teams at Sierra High school, was known as “smiley.”
Now, friends are devastated after hearing that the boy with the ever-present smile was struck and killed by an ACE train.
“I didn’t believe it. I had to look things up, I had to call people,” Malon said.
“Pretty sad, like, basically we couldn’t do work in our second period. We were just like out of it,” senior Kevin Moreno said.
ACE said their train was just a half mile from the Lathrop-Manteca station when a train engineer saw two people on the San Joaquin River train trestle around 6 p.m. Monday. The crew sounded the emergency horn and used their emergency brakes, one person was able to move to safety, unfortunately Peterson was struck.
“Just terrible. Terrible. It’s unfortunate, you know, so young,” neighbor Marcella Moreno said.
The Manteca Unified School District said in a statement:
“Sierra High School suffered the tragic loss of a student. Manteca Unified School District and Sierra High School staff are deeply saddened by this news and send to the family and friends our condolences. In addition to our professional caring Sierra High School Staff, additional counselors, nurses, and psychologists will be on campus as needed today to provide services to students and staff.”
For friends, it’s heartbreaking to know they’ll never see his smile around campus again.
“He was a good friend. He was a nice one, too. He wasn’t a mean one,” friend David Kakaln said.
This is still an active investigation, ACE said they will release updates once they become available.