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UPDATED: 2 Vigils, Memorial Fund Set for CHHS Student Who Died Train-hopping

Candlelight memorials for Chris Hanson will take place in NE Mpls. and Columbia Heights

Update (1 p.m. Sunday): See "7:30 p.m. Saturday" update below for information on the vigil for Chris Hanson on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 6:30 p.m. in Minneapolis. See "5:15 p.m. Saturday" update below for information on the Feb. 26 vigil in Columbia Heights. 

A memorial fund has been established in the name of Christopher Curtis Hanson, according to family friend Mindy Hoffman. Starting Tuesday, any Wells Fargo bank will accept donations to the fund.

An article on the front page of the Sunday Star Tribune describes how Hanson's mother, Melissa Standal, learned of his death near railroad tracks in Minneapolis, as well as other details:

A sophomore at Columbia Heights High School, Chris was on the track, swim and baseball teams. He dreamed of becoming a baseball player.

"He just loved baseball," Standal said.

She said she wouldn't call her son a thrill-seeker.

"He was a people pleaser. He probably did it to be cool," she said of the train hopping.

Update (7:30 p.m. Saturday): Memorial vigils are planned on the next two Sundays for Chris Hanson, the 15-year-old Columbia Heights High School student who died Thursday while hopping trains in Minneapolis.

The first candlelight vigil is Sunday, Feb. 19, at 6:30 p.m., at the Northeast Park baseball fields at 14th Avenue NE and Fillmore Street NE in Minneapolis. In a comment Mindy Hoffman posted below, she said the purpose of the vigil is

to celebrate Christopher Hanson's life. Christopher died on Thursday, February 16th from injuries suffered in a "train mishap," on 14th and Fillmore St. NE according to the medical examiner. His cause of death is multiple blunt force craniocerebral injuries.

Please bring your own candle and please relay this to anyone to who knew or loved Christopher. The family is in the process of finalizing arrangements and will keep everyone posted. They would like to thank everyone for all your thoughts and prayers in this extremely difficult time. They truely appreciate it.

See the "5:15 p.m. Saturday" update below for information on the Feb. 26 vigil in Columbia Heights. 

Update (7 p.m. Saturday): In an email, BNSF Railway spokeswoman Amy McBeth clarified details from a Star Tribune report earlier today:

At about 10:15pm Thursday one of our train crews reported a body near the railroad tracks. This incident is under investigation. The Minneapolis Police Department is the lead investigator and can speak to the investigation. BNSF works with them and assists them.

Railroad tracks are private property. It is extremely dangerous and illegal to trespass on railroad property. If we receive reports of trespassing, railroad police patrol the area and work to deter the activity. Additionally, we support Operation Lifesaver outreach programs to raise public awareness and improve public safety around the railroad. Online, OL has many good stats and tips both at the national website and the Minnesota site about safety.

Update (5:15 p.m. Saturday): A candlelight vigil in memory of Columbia Heights High School student Chris Hanson is set for Sunday, Feb. 26, 3–8 p.m., at Huset Park, 3965 Jefferson St. NE, Columbia Heights, according to a Facebook page for the event: 

"Everyone is invited please bring your own candle. There will be a memorial there so feel free to bring flowers or anything you wish."

The Facebook event listing is here: http://www.facebook.com/events/253475284733393/

Update (4 p.m. Saturday): Columbia Heights High School student Chris Hanson was train-hopping when he was killed Thursday night in northeast Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reported Saturday:

Hanson's mother Melissa Standal said her son had been hanging out with two of his friends when he died. His friends told her that he had hopped onto a moving train, but he didn't jump off when his friend did.

Standal had recently warned her son and his friends about hopping on the trains.

"I told them that it was dangerous," she said.

According to the Star Tribune, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokeswoman said the railroad had not received a report on the incident from any of its train crews.

Update (11 p.m. Friday): A "train mishap" was responsible for the death of Christopher Hanson, a spokeswoman at the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office said Friday night.

"We don't know the exact circumstances," the spokeswoman said.

Hanson was a student at Columbia Heights High School, according to the school principal and Minneapolis police. A Medical Examiner's office spokeswoman described him as a 15-year-old white male.

Hanson died on Thursday, but the Medical Examiner has not determined a time of death. (His body was found at 10:20 p.m.) The location of his injury was southwest of 14th Avenue NE and Fillmore Street NE in Minneapolis.

That is one corner of the Northeast Athletic Fields. To the southwest is a rail yard.

Hanson lived in the 2500 block of Washington Street NE in Minneapolis, the Medical Examiner's office said.

Update (5:15 p.m. Friday): CHHS Principal Joann Karetov read an official statement from the school: 

We were deeply saddened by the death of Chris Hanson. He was well liked by all of his classmates and this has made a huge impact on our Hylander family. We've had counselors on site as students work through their grief. Our condolences go out to Chris' family and friends.

"it was a pretty tough day in our building," Karetov said. The school had a moment of silence Friday, she said, and there will be another at the basketball game Friday night.

"Students have been thinking of a memorial but nothing is set in stone yet," Karetov said, adding that the school did not know anything from the family regarding memorial services.

Counselors will continue to be available when school resumes after a scheduled break next week, she said.

Original post (4:45 p.m. Friday): Minneapolis police said Friday that a 15-year-old boy found dead Thursday night near 14th Avenue NE and Fillmore Street NE was a student at Columbia Heights High School.

His identity and other details have not yet been released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, according to Minneapolis Police Sgt. Stephen McCarty.

The body was found "near tracks but not on the tracks" by "an employee from the railroad yard" at about 10:20 p.m Thursday, McCarty said.

The boy "was believed to be a student" at CHHS, he said.

District and school officials were not immediately available Friday afternoon.

The area where the body was found is also near the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board's Northeast Athletic Fields.

mindy hoffman February 18, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Tomorrow night Sunday, Feb 19th a candlelight vigil will take place at NE park at the baseball fields on 14th and Fillmore St. at 6:30pm to celebrate Christopher Hanson's life. Christopher died on Thursday, February 16th from injuries suffered in a "train mishap," on 14th and Fillmore St. NE according to the medical examiner. His cause of death is multiple blunt force craniocerebral injuries. Please bring your own candle and please relay this to anyone to who knew or loved Christopher. The family is in the process of finalizing arrangements and will keep everyone posted. They would like to thank everyone for all your thoughts and prayers in this extremely difficult time. They truely appreciate it.
Chris Steller February 19, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Thank you, Mindy. I'll add info on the Feb. 19 vigil as an update to the post. Please post another comment or email me at chris.steller@patch.com with any more info. Also, please note that anyone can upload photos or fliers (PDFs) to this post.

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