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Sheriff is worried about dangerous “train hopping” social media stunt gaining popularity

Train hoppers often post their exploits on YouTube and other social media sites.

DAVENPORT, Iowa  --  A trend of train hopping and posting the exploits on social media is dangerous, and costing lives, authorities say. It is likely what cost Robert Lamb his life last week.

Hopping involves climbing onto moving freight trains and recording the act.

Scott County Sheriff Tim Lane says he thinks the videos glorify bad decisions.

"You can see on social media that there are individuals sharing their experience of jumping on trains, playing around slow moving trains and things like that," Lane said.  "I think that is encouraging other people to try the same thing. The problem is, it`s very dangerous and also illegal."

Lane says it takes a train more than a mile to stop, so being near tracks is dangerous and considered trespassing.

Trains often travel 40 to 50 miles-per-hour and it can be hard to tell how fast they are actually moving.

"Even if an engineer sees that there is a problem ahead, the most they can do is blow the horn and warn the person to get out of the way. It is up to the person to get out of the way, cause they can`t stop the train," Lane said.

In the case of Lamb, alcohol also played a role in the fatality, according to a release from the Scott County Sheriff's Department. Lamb was riding on top of a Canadian Pacific train and either fell or jumped off the moving train, sustaining fatal injuries. His body was found the next day near tracks between LeClaire and Princeton.

Sheriff Lane says he hopes this does not become a popular trend in the Quad Cities, and for now, law enforcement and railway patrol will maintain their regular routes.