published Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Young man, woman struck by train in Hamilton County named

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Sgt. David Tittle walks past the last car of the train that struck a male and female Monday near Sale Creek.
Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Sgt. David Tittle walks past the last car of the train that struck a male and female Monday near Sale Creek.
Photo by Tracey Trumbull /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  • photo
    Michael Hennen
    Contributed Photo from Mark Gilliand

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office detectives are continuing an investigation into what led to the deaths of a young man and woman struck by a train early Monday morning.

The two, Michael Hennen, 27, and Hannah Barnes, 19 -- whose identities were confirmed by several sources -- were killed after they were struck by a Norfolk Southern train about 6 a.m.

Hennen is the son of the founder of Hennen's Restaurant at 193 Chestnut St. He worked as manager at the restaurant along with Barnes, who worked as a server and attended Chattanooga State Community College.

One of the restaurant owners declined to comment Monday afternoon.

Lt. Chris Chambers, who oversees the criminal investigation division for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, said detectives still are conducting interviews.

"It's just such a tragedy. It's terrible," he said.

Both bodies were taken to the Hamilton County medical examiner's office.

The accident occurred near the McDonald Farm in Sale Creek at 15800 Coulterville Road at a private crossing. No one answered the door at the McDonald residence Monday morning.

Officials with Norfolk Southern said the train crew blew the horn before striking the two.

"They could see something on the tracks," said Susan Terpay, director of public relations for Norfolk Southern.

The rail crew called authorities after the accident.

It took about a mile for the two locomotives and 12-car train to come to a stop, Terpay said. The track is used frequently, she said, with an average of 25 trains passing along the track daily with no precise time schedule.

Norfolk Southern sent representatives to the scene, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.

Investigators plan to review video from the train's engine.

Hennen had attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, according to his Facebook page.

Barnes graduated from Signal Mountain Middle High School in 2010.

"I've been knocked to my knees. She was a very, very fine young lady," said Sandra Cox, chemistry teacher at the Signal Mountain school, who heard the news Monday afternoon.

"Sweet, outgoing. Everyone liked her," Cox said about Barnes.

She said she worked with Barnes and a couple of other students on a senior project.

"She was just a great girl with her whole life ahead of her," she said. "She was just a beautiful, beautiful girl. It's one of those crazy things. I just think it's something crazy."

Staff writer Kate Harrison contributed to this report.

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Apache_Monk said...

Where they in a car? It doesn't say. Maybe they were already dead.

August 23, 2011 at 6:54 a.m.
rolando said...

What a tragedy; God bless and keep their souls and be with their families in their time of grief.

So young.

August 23, 2011 at 8:07 a.m.

From what i've heard, there were just standing there while the train was blowing their horn. Maybe they could've been drugged? Who knows. It's hard to think you wouldn't move from a train that blew their horn before the hit.

August 23, 2011 at 9:23 a.m.
Here2Opine said...

They were standing there? This doesn't sound positive. How awful. Prayers headed their way.

August 23, 2011 at 11:26 a.m.
rolando said...

Suicide by train? Hard to believe that.

August 23, 2011 at 5:37 p.m.
73Super said...

I tell you what is unfortunate, times free press. The picture on the front page of the paper today. Even if that only looks like a body on the tracks, it would be distasteful to print it. If it actually is, then shame on you. You think of noone but yourselves.

August 23, 2011 at 7:40 p.m.
01centare said...

Ashley_elizabeth said... From what i've heard, there were just standing there while the train was blowing their horn. Maybe they could've been drugged? Who knows. It's hard to think you wouldn't move from a train that blew their horn before the hit.

If that's the case, sounds like it very well could have been a suicide pact? Their being from prominent families and all, it is doubtful the truth will come out if it was either drug related or suicide.

August 23, 2011 at 8:03 p.m.
chattcat said...

I don't believe for one second it was suicide pact, I think there is more to this story and, as always, Chattanooga likes to brush cold, hard truths under the rug so we can maintain our "safe and pure community." Just like the rest of the world, we are NOT Mayberry anymore, Chattanooga. My heart goes out to Michael's and Hannah's families. Such an unfortunate loss to our community! Prayers to all the friends and family.

August 23, 2011 at 11:26 p.m.
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