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Jacksonville youth's leg severed trying to hop train

State child welfare authorities investigating

Posted: April 6, 2014 - 9:03am  |  Updated: April 7, 2014 - 7:11am

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56th street and Main street, Jacksonville, Florida

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State child welfare authorities are investigating the circumstances leading to a Jacksonville teenager getting his leg severed above the ankle by a moving train early Sunday as he tried to make it back to a nonprofit youth group home before curfew.

Jayson Ahrens,16, was injured about 12:10 a.m. on the railroad tracks near 56th and Main streets on the Northside while trying to get back to the Panama Youth Services center, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

He was taken to UF Health Jacksonville, where he is recovering, Willie Green, executive director and chief executive officer of the nonprofit, told the Times-Union.

Licensed by the state, Panama Youth Services at 402 E. 63rd St., provides emergency shelter and residential treatment for male youths ages 13 to 17. It primarily serves male youths in foster care. The facility has a nightly curfew but isn’t a detention center or a locked-down facility, Green said.

Florida Department of Children & Families officials are “gathering more information” about the incident as well as the group home, John Harrell, agency spokesman, told the Times-Union.

“We definitely are very concerned about this incident,” Harrell said. “We definitely want to find out exactly what happened, find out more about the situation with this teenager, find out more about the group home and the living conditions as far as the situation there.”

Green said youth at the facility are allowed to come and go as long as they first get permission, and must follow rules including returning by curfew.

The facility has been open about five years. Appropriate curfews are set based on a youth’s age grouping, he said.

“There are quite a few laws governing the children, and we really do try to take every kind of precaution that we can when dealing with them,” Green said.

Police said the preliminary investigation indicated that Ahrens tried to jump onto the moving train. However, Green said the youth told him that he was trying to beat the oncoming train.

“He was trying to make curfew and he tried to beat the train, running across the track … and he said that he slipped and fell. And when he fell, he didn’t have the opportunity [to get out of the way]. He made a bad choice in trying to do the right thing [make curfew],” Green said.

Ahrens’ leg was caught under the train, severing it above the ankle, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Green said they strive to teach the youths in their care to make good choices. But they are kids, and sometimes they don’t always make the best decisions, he said.

“He’s doing fine. He’s talking. He is just a little upset that he made a bad choice,” Green said.


Teresa Stepzinski: (904) 359-4075

Comments (13)

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PhDBlack 04/07/14 - 09:51 am
Premium Member

It was a Saturday night so

It was a Saturday night so the curfew was probably 12:00am....

saltmarsh cracker
saltmarsh cracker 04/07/14 - 09:14 am

was the severed part of the

was the severed part of the leg recovered?

lilrio 04/07/14 - 08:17 am
Premium Member

I hope the young man recovers

I hope the young man recovers and many other kids learn from what happened.

Ben 04/06/14 - 11:50 pm

A horrible accident. My

A horrible accident. My prayers and best wishes for the boy. Kids in foster care need good hearted people to care about them. These children have been neglected by their families. It is not their fault to be in foster care. I wish some of you would show more compassion and willingness to help these young ones.

Jorge 04/06/14 - 09:11 pm

Give the kid a break. It

Give the kid a break. It sounds like he was trying to make a good decision. I'm sure those are few and far between when you live in foster homes. Plainview: I hope if you're ever in an accident, the first responders have more compassion than you do, even of it is your own damn fault.

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