Coroner releases identity of man killed by Amtrak train on Sunday

By Eric Anderson

The man killed by a northbound Amtrak train Sunday evening has been identified as 50-year-old John Wagoner, said Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup.

Wagoner was struck and killed at 7:10 p.m. by a train heading from Carbondale, Ill. to Chicago, Ill., said Tracey Connell, an Amtrak spokeswoman.

“We were able to (identify) him through photo-id as well as some scarring unique to him from previous injuries,” Northrup said.

He said that Wagoner was homeless and may have had a history of alcohol abuse.

“We actually had a tentative I.D. on him at the scene,” Northrup said.

“He was known to the Champaign police department because they had previous interactions with him.”

Lieutenant Brad Yohnka, Champaign police officer, was one of six Champaign police officers that responded to the scene.

“The call came in from one of the train personnel,” Yohnka said. “We always respond to any kind of an accident involving something that serious.”

Neither Northrup nor Yohnka knew why Wagoner was on the tracks.

“As far as we know, he was just sitting there or maybe he fell asleep,” Yohnka said. “We can’t speculate.”

Northrup is awaiting toxicology tests on fluids to determine whether Wagoner was intoxicated or on drugs when he was hit.

“I hope to answer additional questions such as whether this individual was intoxicated or possibly ordering prescription medications that I’m not aware of,” Northrup said.

Northrup is checking that the bodily injuries are consistent with the statements and information about the death. By talking to family members and getting Wagoner’s history, Northrup hopes to determine whether the death was intentional or accidental.

“We have the cause of death and now we’re just waiting to gather the rest of the information, get the toxicology (results) and get the ruling on the manner,” Northrup said.