Laughlin AFB Student Pilot Killed on Train Tracks in Del Rio


LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, TX — A U.S. Air Force student pilot was found dead off-base in Del Rio Tuesday, April 16. Val Verde County Sheriff’s Office notified Laughlin AFB security forces that a body was found dead near a railway off base. The deceased individual was identified as an active-duty Airman stationed at Laughlin. Laughlin AFB is located about 6 miles east of Del Rio on U.S. 90.

According to Del Rio's 830 Times reporter Karen Gleason, Val Verde County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Lt. Gina Garcia, who heads the criminal investigations division, offered more details on the situation. Garcia said that 2d Lt James Chitika was walking on the railroad tracks when he was struck by an Amtrak train traveling eastbound toward Del Rio. Chitika was killed when the train struck him.

This incident followed shortly after Laughlin Air Force Base's Student Pilot Class 24-08 graduation on Friday, April 12. Here's 2d Lt. Chitika walking the stage:

On Monday, April 22, Laughlin Air Force Base personnel identified the deceased in a press release.

“A 47th Flying Training Wing Airman found dead off base near the railway in Del Rio, Texas on Tuesday, April 16, is identified as 2d Lt. James Chitika,” the release said.

Col. Kevin A. Davidson, the 47th Flying Training Wing commander, made a statement following the tragic news.

The Beechcraft T-6 Texan II is a single-engine turboprop aircraft used to train student-pilots.

The Beechcraft T-6 Texan II is a single-engine turboprop aircraft used to train student-pilots.



“We tragically lost a member of our Air Force and Laughlin family,” said Col Davidson. “Our hearts and prayers are with the family and all those that knew him. Our top priority is to support the grieving family, friends, and loved ones struggling with this loss.”

Chitika is a 24-year-old native of Atlanta, Georgia, and is survived by his father, mother, and sister

Laughlin AFB is among a handful of bases that train pilots for the U.S. Air Force and these types of bases are usually a newly-minted officer's first base assignment.

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