Tracks where boy lost feet did not have fence required by law

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There was no fence to keep people off the railroad bed along the St. Paul stretch of track where a 9-year-old boy's feet were severed by a train – even though that fencing is required by law, reports Trisha Volpe in a new story for MPR and KARE 11.

Investigators said Marshawn Farr-Robinson last month climbed onto a slow-moving train and fell, and the train amputated the boy's feet. The boy was recovering well, his mother said a few days after the accident.

The tracks are owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe, but it's not yet clear if the train belonged to BNSF or Canadian Pacific, Volpe reports.

Volpe reports that it is illegal to trespass on rail company property, and no-trespassing signs were posted in the area where the boy fell – but state law requires more: "Every railroad company shall build and maintain good and substantial fences on each side of all lines of its railroad."

Volpe notes that Minnesota Statute 219.31 is about 100 years old and was written to protect livestock. But Minnesota courts have said the statute is also intended to protect children, Volpe reports. The issue has surfaced in half dozen legal cases involving railroads and injuries, some fatal, on the tracks.

MPR and KARE 11 produced this report on Andre Fisher, 32, who also lost his legs as a 9-year-old boy in a train accident, and settled a lawsuit he filed against the Soo Line Railroad after a judge ruled that the railroad didn't follow the fence law:

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