Horrified by dog’s death, Richmond woman helps make Texas Beach safer

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – After her dog was hit and killed by a train in August, a Richmond woman is on a mission to make others safer when they visit Texas Beach.

Ellie Minasian’s dog, Charlie, was struck by a train on August 27 while crossing a railroad bridge on the trail west and upstream of Texas Beach. The bridge is a popular way to cross a small portion of the trail because of how high and fast the water comes out of a nearby canal at this area.

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“I presumed I’d be able to hear a train coming and I’d have enough time to pick Charlie up and get us across safely,” she recalled.

As soon as she got onto the bridge, a train appeared, racing toward Minasian and Charlie.

“I had maybe ten seconds to react and make a decision. I only had enough time to get myself over (to the other side),” Minasian said through tears. “I didn’t have enough time to pick Charlie up and carry him over there. I get across, then turn around and see Charlie get hit by the train.”

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In the time since, Minasian has turned her profound sadness into action, teaming up with James River Park staff and James River Hikers to build a safer path across the rocks and protect others from Charlie’s fate.

She said she hopes that through the project called ‘Charlie’s Crossing,’ people will no longer feel compelled to risk their lives, and their pets’ lives, by walking on the train tracks.

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“I have heard many stories about how others have had close calls with almost being hit by trains at this site, as well as others who have died due to not having enough time to get out of the way of the train,” Minasian said, describing the sudden loss of her dog as a ‘nightmare.’

The wooden bridges that comprise ‘Charlie’s Crossing’ will be finished by November 18. “You don’t have to do this anymore. You don’t have to put your dog’s life at risk and your life at risk,’ said Minasian. She and other James River Hikers will hold a dedication ceremony and memorial service at 9am on December 3rd.

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