The couple killed when they were hit by a Canadian Pacific train while trying to cross a railway crossing in downtown Wetaskiwin have been identified as Daniel Tites, 84, and Nazmoon Charran, 75.

Charran was pushing a wheelchair and walking in front when Tites slipped and fell on the tracks. She turned back to help him and was struck by train as well.

"She gave her life up in order to try to save him," said Cpl. Kevin Krebs. "It's a tragedy."

Residents of the city, 65 kilometres south of Edmonton, called the couple warm and friendly.

"They were so friendly," said Carol Olson, who works across the street from the flea market that the victims ran. "They sat outside all the time and just talked with everybody. So, you don't usually see that too often."

Jason Pynn said the couple brought him water while he was replacing sidewalks outside their store. 

"She reminded me a little bit about my mother," he said. 

Dakota Zielke said Charron just had her hair done and was set to depart on Friday for a trip to Cuba. 

"You feel empty, you feel like your stomach just dropped to the floor," she said. 

The warning lights, bells and barricades at the crossing were working at the time and the train was sounding its horn, CP said.

A similar accident occurred in 2009 when an 80-year-old woman died while walking across the same tracks.

With files from CBC's Scott Fralick