Teenager wearing headphones walking to school killed by freight train in Slidell _lowres

A pedestrian was killed Wednesday morning after being struck by a train in Slidell, police said. (Photo provided by Slidell Police Department)

A teenager who was walking to school Wednesday morning with headphones on was killed when he was struck by a southbound Norfolk Southern freight train, Slidell police said.

The victim was identified as 16-year-old James Pulsifer.

The train’s conductor told police that the teen was walking down the center of the tracks.

The conductor said he tried to stop the train and alert the teenager, according to police, but Pulsifer apparently did not hear the train’s whistle. He was struck between the North Boulevard and Lafayette Street crossings and died at the scene.

Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith called the death a tragic accident made worse by how young the victim was.

Slidell High School is near the scene of the accident. A spokeswoman for the St. Tammany Parish school system declined to say whether Pulsifer was enrolled there citing privacy concerns. Slidell police referred questions to the school system.

Pedestrians frequently use railroad tracks to walk from place to place because of the false belief that it is safer than walking on a roadway, Slidell police said. But they said it is both illegal and dangerous.

Pedestrians should cross tracks only at designated crossings and never walk along them, police advised.

Editor’s note: This story was updated Jan. 21 to include a response from St. Tammany Parish school administrators.

Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.