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Teen electrocution victim was a runaway atop train for unknown reason

Teen found atop Regional Rail train was electrocuted by some 12,000 volts.
SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel on Wednesday discussed the electrocution death of Raekwon Jones, 15. (Sam Newhouse/National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)

The charred body found atop a Regional Rail car last week was a 15-year-old teen who had run away from a foster home, SEPTA announced on Wednesday. 

Raekwon Jones, 15, was electrocuted on Thanksgiving night after climbing atop a SEPTA Regional Rail train in Suburban Station. His body was too burned to be recognized and was on top of the train until the beginning of rush hour when it was spotted by a passenger. 

SEPTA police Chief Thomas Nestel III urged members of the public to never go on top of trains at a news conference on Wednesday. Regional Rail trains are powered by a current of some 12,000 volts.

“Some people think as long as you don’t touch the wires, you’ll be okay. That’s not the case,” Nestel said. “An electrical arc can occur, attracted to anything on your person, and cause serious injury. Don’t go on top of the trains.”

Nestel added that SEPTA is “sorry to say” that after being electrocuted, Jones’ body was not spotted and removed from the top of a Chestnut Hill West train until six hours later.

SEPTA is in contact with Jones’ mother and attorney at present. Jones had reportedly run away in September, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children posted a missing flyer for Jones on Sept. 29.

Why Jones climbed on top of the train is not known. Speculation of subway surfing appears unlikely, since the train was out of service at the time. 

“He wouldn’t have been surfing anywhere,” Nestel said. “I don’t know that we’ll ever know why he was on top of that train.”

SEPTA released the following timeline to media: 

Nov. 24, 12:37 a.m.: Raekwon is caught on surveillance cameras entering Suburban Station.

Roughly 12:50 a.m.: Raekwon is caught on cameras accessing the Track 5 & 6 Regional Rail platform and wandering toward the back before going out of view, while SEPTA police were clearing the station before closing it down. 

12:57 a.m.: An “electrical fault” occurred at Suburban Station, like a circuit breaker closing, believed to be the event that electrocuted Raekwon.

1:06 a.m.: A fire alarm goes off on the Suburban Station concourse level.

1:43 a.m.: Philadelphia Fire Department leaves after detecting “no source of smoke or fire," and Suburban Station is locked down.

5:33 a.m.: The train in question departs from Track 6 on the Chestnut Hill West line.

7:11 a.m.: Raekwon’s remains are discovered after a passenger at Jefferson Station sitting on a bench spots something on top of the train and alerts SEPTA.