Kristi Bartz, 17, was struck and killed by a freight train Saturday northwest of Marysville. Family described her as a top student and athlete, with plans to attend the University of British Columbia in the fall.
Kristi Bartz was one of those kids who just seemed naturally good at everything: She was a co-captain of her soccer team and broke numerous school records in track and field. She didn’t even like math but excelled nonetheless, tutoring classmates and taking Advanced Placement courses in calculus, her father said Sunday.
The popular, athletic 17-year-old was fatally struck by a freight train Saturday afternoon in Silvana, northwest of Marysville.
On Sunday, hundreds of people packed the bleachers at Archbishop Murphy High School in Everett to mourn the fun-loving senior who planned to study business and English at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, B.C., family said.
“She was extraordinary,” Kristi’s dad, Manfred Bartz, said Sunday. “She was just one of those people who was just compassionate, compassionate to anybody and everybody. She was just a humble and loving and very well-loved person.”
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The teen and a female companion were on a trestle about 20 feet above a slough on the Stillaguamish River around 3:10 p.m. when a BNSF Railway train approached, BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said. The train crew sounded the whistle and applied the emergency brake.
One girl was able to jump to the side of the bridge, clear of the approaching train. But Kristi was struck.
The train, en route from Portland to Vancouver, B.C., was traveling about 40 mph, Melonas said.
The two-member crew stopped the train and one crew member, who is also a volunteer firefighter, tried to administer CPR to the injured girl with the help of a young male who was with the two girls, Melonas said. All three are juveniles, he said.
The portion of the bridge where Kristi was struck is marked with no-trespassing signs, according to Melonas.
“Being on railroad property is illegal, it’s dangerous,” Melonas said. “We tell people they need to expect movement of a train on any track, at any time, in any direction.”
Both girls were wearing swimsuits, and the teenage boy they were with was also swimming at the popular swim site, but he jumped from the bridge into the water before the train approached, Melonas said.
“Our school is grieving at this time,” said Shannon McCann, a spokeswoman for Archbishop Murphy High School, a private Catholic prep school.
Manfred Bartz said his daughter, the youngest of three girls, was one of 600 students chosen from a pool of 6,000 applicants to attend business school at UBC in the fall. She dreamed of traveling the world and wanted to work with impoverished people around the globe “and help bring them up,” Bartz said.
She recently broke her high school’s record for the 1-mile run by two seconds, and held the school record in the 800 meter and high jump, her father said. A co-captain of her school’s soccer team, Kristi also played select soccer with Washington Rush, he said.
“She never competed against anybody else — always herself and she always wanted to push her limits,” Bartz said. “She never complained. She just played the game and rolled with the bruises and punches.”
Though her given name was Kristiane, everyone called her Kristi, her father said.
“She really believed in God,” Bartz said, adding his daughter had a good head about her, got straight A’s and was the person her friends’ parents called to find out where their kids were.
Kristi lived with her father, mother Karen Bartz, and two sisters — Stefani Bartz, 23, and Michaela Bartz, 20 — in Snohomish.
“She really loved life. She loved the outdoors, she loved the water,” her father said.
Bartz declined to discuss details of the accident, saying the family is still waiting to learn exactly what happened.
Kristi’s death is the ninth on BNSF tracks in Washington this year, Melonas said. Approximately 30 people were killed along the railroad’s 32,500 miles of track in 2013 and 2014 combined, Melonas said.
“It’s a very tragic situation,” Melonas said, noting there is no record of previous injuries in the last 30 years at the bridge where Kristi was killed. “This time of year, kids do get on the railroad tracks sometimes.”
BNSF monitors tracks throughout the Puget Sound area year-round but steps up patrols as the weather improves, Melonas said.
“This is something we (regularly) do, but when there’s an incident like this, we’re on alert,” he said.
Trespassers face citations of $550 or more, Melonas said.
Two other trains were also delayed by Saturday’s accident. Traffic resumed about 7 p.m.