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Delia Papastesis and Jamie Kootenay were struck and killed by an LRT train Tuesday night. ((Supplied))

Family members and former classmates have identified the two teens struck and killed by an LRT train south of the Coliseum station Tuesday night as Jamie Kootenay and Delia Papastesis, both 19.

They were hit by the train just after 8 p.m. Kootenay died at the scene. Papastesis was trapped under the train, and emergency crews spent almost an hour trying to free her. She died in hospital.

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Papastesis's sister Janice Randhile sobs as she speaks to reporters Wednesday. ((CBC))

"I saw her yesterday," Papastesis's sister Janice Randhile said between sobs. "I saw both of them yesterday. She was so happy. I just couldn't believe that this is happening ... It's just not fair. She's just too young."

Randhile joined friends and family to lay bouquets of flowers beside the track where her sister died. Another sister, Jennifer Lake, saw Papastesis hours before the tragedy.

"She was walking her little dog," Lake told CBC News while visiting the scene Wednesday. "She looked so happy. I never stopped to say hello, but I didn't think that was going to be the last time I'd see her again.

"She's a really kind-hearted girl. She had a lot of love for everybody. I'm sure going to miss her though.

"I think she was just at the wrong place or the wrong time. "

Both Papastesis and Kootenay were former students at Amiskwaciy Academy, a school for aboriginal students near the City Centre Airport, said an Edmonton Public School Board official.

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Nolan Shone was with the teens just before they were struck by the train. ((CBC))

Papastesis was a recent graduate while Kootenay attended the school in the past. The two had been dating for two years.

"If you were in a relationship, you would be inspired to be like them," said Jessica Johnson, a former classmate at the school.

The school is grieving, Johnson said.

"It's hard because it's kind of like a community there — like I said, it was like my home there," said Johnson. "I feel like I lost some great family."

Teachers informed students about the tragedy when they arrived Wednesday morning. Grief counsellors were on hand to help out.

"It's sad," said Johnson. "Everyone is down. Teachers are just putting on movies because no one wants to do work. People are crying. It's hard to be around."

Pair 'unlucky', friend says 

Police said six young adults were walking east of a marked LRT crossing at 82 Street and 113 Avenue, when Kootenay and Papastesis began running in the direction of the tracks.

The pair were hit by the train. Emergency services responded after a 911 call from the LRT operator.

Friends were angry at media reports suggesting a man was seen holding a woman down on the tracks just before the train's arrival. Homicide detectives have been called in, but police are still determining whether to consider the incident criminal in nature.

"Jamie wouldn't hold down Delia like that," said Nolan Shone, who was in the group of people walking with the pair at the time of the incident.

Shone, who was friends with the two since Grade 8, said he was turned the other way when the pair was hit. When he ran to the train, he saw Kootenay's body underneath.

"I think they just bolted in front of the train," Shone said. "Just unlucky."

No fencing along tracks

Shone said Kootenay and Papastesis were both caring people.

"They're loved," he said. "They're not going to be replaced. They're going to be missed."

Police took the people in the group to the downtown station for interviews, said EPS spokesman Chad Orydzuk.

But people living close to where the two were killed said it's common to see people running up and down and across the tracks.

Most people don't pay attention to a warning sign posted nearby, said Brandi LaPearle who watched the collision from her balcony.

"Even though the trains are coming and they're beeping their horns, people still aren't getting out of the way," she said.

Another resident thinks the city should put up a barrier along the tracks.

"They should definitely put up fences, I think, just for safety, for precaution," Taylor George said.

Officials with the City of Edmonton are not commenting until the investigation is complete.

About 50 passengers were on the train at the time. No one was hurt. They were moved to a second train and taken to Clareview station. LRT service was suspended between Coliseum and Churchill stations.

The most recent fatality involving an LRT train was a man in his 30s who was killed Oct. 1, 2008, near 92 Street and 106 Avenue.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story contained quotes and information from a woman who said she witnessed events leading up to the crash. Later information has led CBC News to question the reliability of her account, so it has been removed from the story.
    Nov 12, 2010 1:10 AM MT