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IT was possibly only when they began to wait for the Newcastle-bound train at East Maitland station that Liam Reeves and his mate realised it wasn't stopping.
But it was due to pick up at the Victoria Street station - only about 750 metres away - and it was only minutes from arriving.
So the pair jumped on the tracks and made a beeline towards Victoria Street.
It was a decision that cost Liam his life.
They saw the westbound freight train approaching around the bend and got out of its way.
But they didn't see the passenger train - the same one they were trying to catch - coming up behind them.
Liam, 21, was hit and went under the train.
His 19-year-old mate was somehow pushed aside, miraculously escaping with only minor injuries.
TRAGIC SCENE: The rail line looking from Victoria Street station west towards East Maitland station. Picture: Perry Duffin.
The incident, which occurred on Friday night, has torn apart several families and left train drivers, workers and passengers traumatised.
"Liam was a great bloke, he was the most loyal person I've ever met,'' devastated big brother Mark Reeves said on Sunday.
"He would do anything for anyone close to him and put others before himself at any given chance.
"He was a kind, caring and easygoing man who never got into any trouble.
"He loved his family with everything.''
It is undestood Liam and his mate had made the decision to head into Newcastle on Friday night to catch up with friends.
Timetables show that the Newcastle-bound service was due at Victoria Street station at 10.17pm after bypassing High Street and East Maitland stations.
The next train to Newcastle was not due to stop at East Maitland for another 30 minutes.
So it is believed the pair decided to run to Victoria Street and get the earlier service.
They definitely saw the freight train coming and were able to get out of its way.
But police will investigate whether the noise of the freight train muffled any sign that the passenger train was coming up behind the pair.
Liam never stood a chance.
The driver and guard of the passenger service attempted to help him, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
His mate had only suffered some bruising and was taken to Maitland Hospital for treatment.
A passenger on the train, who knew the two young men, was also treated for extreme shock.
"He will be missed dearly by many of his friends and his family,'' Mark Reeves said.
"We are all devastated and in shock and can't believe that this has happened.
"We also express our our deepest gratitude for the emergency and rail services who did everything possible to help Liam.
"Our thoughts are with them in dealing with being exposed to such a tragic accident.''
Mark Reeves said his younger brother had many interests including music and rugby league, and was able to watch his beloved North Queensland Cowboys win the NRL competition last year.
The former Maitland Grossman High School student was also a video game enthusiast, well known in the online community for being sponsored in some games.
Police transport command officers are preparing a report for the coroner.
Chief Inspector David McBeath said Liam's death was a reminder for people to stay clear of rail corridors.
“We have so many near misses almost every day across the state,” Chief Inspector McBeath said.
This article first appeared on www.theherald.com.au
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