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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fundraiser, tribute set for Nashua man killed by train in San Diego

Pat Terrin’s well-earned summer vacation out West would be the best ever.

First, the lifelong Nashua kid was going to visit his sister Amanda, whom he hadn’t seen in a couple years, and help her celebrate her birthday. Then two days later, he’d be at his older brother’s wedding, the second half of a two-part celebration with two people very close to his heart. ...

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Pat Terrin’s well-earned summer vacation out West would be the best ever.

First, the lifelong Nashua kid was going to visit his sister Amanda, whom he hadn’t seen in a couple years, and help her celebrate her birthday. Then two days later, he’d be at his older brother’s wedding, the second half of a two-part celebration with two people very close to his heart.

On Thursday, Aug. 7, as part one – his sister’s birthday celebration, near her home in the Carlsbad section of San Diego – was winding down, Terrin posted online a video of himself belting out a Neil Diamond tune, Amanda and others cheering him on. Shortly afterward, the two left the pub on foot, soon coming upon a railroad crossing gate which, with no train yet in sight, Pat Terrin ducked and crossed the tracks.

Amanda Terrin hesitated; her brother doubled back to lead her across. It was 11:20 p.m.

Witnesses reported hearing a sickening thud. “The next thing you know everyone is freaking out,” one said. Another said he saw what looked like the train “hitting a potato sack.”

Patrick Joseph Terrin, 22, was struck and killed instantly, his body tossed several yards upon impact. The train, officials said, was traveling a little over 50 mph.

Doubly tragic is the fact that Amanda Terrin was forced to witness the unthinkable: her brother’s sudden death, in one of the worst ways imaginable.

Calling hours for Patrick Terrin are set for 4-7 p.m. Friday at the Farwell Funeral Home, 18 Lock St. A Mass of Christian burial is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Patrick Church, 29 Spring St. A full obituary ran in Wednesday’s Telegraph and can be found at www.nashuatelegraph.com/obituaries.

“We all had the same reaction: ‘Not Pat. No way,’ ” said close friend Troy Rathke, owner of Crossfit Earned gym in Merrimack, where Pat Terrin worked out to maintain his healthy, sculpted form. “He was a member, but he was much bigger than that. He interacted with almost everyone,” Rathke said.

“He was the kind of kid that if he saw someone struggling, he’d run with them, encourage them, whether he knew them or not.”

Barely a day had passed since word of Terrin’s death reached his friends back home that Rathke and his members began organizing a fundraiser to help the family of “one of the most contagiously positive individuals I’ve ever met,” Rathke wrote on the Facebook page “Live Like Pat.” The event is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 23 – two days before what would have been Pat Terrin’s 23rd birthday. (See event details in accompanying information box).

“Our goal is to spend minimal amount of money possible and raise as much money as possible,” Rathke said of the event, which will feature food, “huge” raffle, Pat Terrin memorial T-shirts, and a ceremony in which Rathke will “retire” Terrin’s weightlifting shoes by placing them on a gym wall with a banner in his memory.

“We want to show the world what kind of guy Pat was,” Rathke said, calling him “a member of our family (who) believed wholeheartedly in what we do here at CFE.” That goal is off to a strong start: As of Tuesday afternoon, some 200 people had accepted the invitation posted on the “Live Like Pat” page.

Coverage of the accident by two San Diego TV stations, KGTV Channel 10 and KNSD Channel 7, pieced together a chilling scenario that reporters said has happened before at the crossing, which is near the intersection of Grand Avenue and State Street.

“I’d say probably every other month we hear someone getting killed,” Carlsbad resident Wyatt Vandriessche, one of the witnesses, told KGTV. “It’s crazy. I don’t understand it. It feels like they should build something right here so people don’t do it.”

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department told KGTV that the grade crossing warning system was functioning properly at the time, but a reporter said the news crew covering the accident “noticed the safety arms go down in front of cars,” which “block pedestrian traffic on one side of the tracks, but not the other, which means there’s no barricade between people and trains.”

There is no indication in the news coverage of investigators looking into possible wrongdoing by the operator of the train, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train that was headed north at the time of the accident.

Pat Terrin, who worked at Chunky’s Cinema, was never a large young man, wrestling in the 112-pound category when, as a member of the Nashua High School South wrestling team, he qualified for the Meet of Champions in 2008, his sophomore year.

Most recently, Rathke said, Terrin went about 135 pounds, but his presence “was much bigger than that.

“We want to show the world what a vibrant young man he was,” Rathke said of the fundraiser.

Coaches who Rathke has talked to called Terrin one of the “most coachable, most humble athletes” they had coached. “A lot of his old coaches, teammates will be here (on Aug. 23),” he said.

“Pat will be missed more than words can describe,” Rathke said.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).