HOUSTON -- A longtime Kashmere High School teaching assistant was hit and killed by a train in northeast Houston Tuesday afternoon.
Johnnie Harris, 69, had worked for the district since 1991, HISD said. She was walking on Lockwood St. near both Kashmere and Felix Cook Jr. Elementary when an Amtrak train hit her.
An Amtrak spokesman classified Harris' death as a "trespassing case" when reached for comment by phone. She was beloved at Kashmere.
"Ms. Harris was a treasured member of the Kashmere family," said Principal Nancy Blackwell. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Harris' family. She will be deeply missed."
Harris was a special education teaching assistant at Kashmere for 10 years. Her husband told Eyewitness News her vehicle needed repairs so she had been catching rides with neighbors. Tuesday, he believes she was walking home and just didn't make it across the tracks in time.
"I don't know what to say. I'm at a loss for words," said Frank Harris, the victim's husband of 50 years. "Never forget her."
Students witnessed the incident.
"It was already too late. I seen her get hit," said one high school student.
Parents say it highlights the need for either a pedestrian bridge over the tracks or crossing guards. The area has heavy foot traffic.
"Especially to have two schools and kids going to lunch, back and forth. It's crazy. It's not safe," Bobbie Hayes said.
At Harris' home in northeast Houston, neighbors and relatives gathered to support her family.
"She loved her grandchildren. She loved her children and she loved her husband," said Doris Cooks, a neighbor.
Union Pacific owns the tracks and issued a statement, saying, "Union Pacific extends its condolences to the friends and family of the victim. In light of today's incident, we urge all to remember to be safe when near railroad tracks, whether on foot or in a vehicle. Always respect the warning gates and lights, and stay clear of the tracks as a passing train may extend beyond the width of the track by nearly 6 feet."