While many kids grew up playing with Thomas the Train and his many friends, some learn the hard way that real trains are not toys.
Fifteen-year-old Caleb Roedel's leg was severed in an accident with a train near the Germantown Festival outside of Memphis, Tenn.
Witnesses say the teen was playing the game "chicken" on a dare...but family members say he was just running alongside the tracks and fell.
Carol Earle says she warned children a previous festival to stay away from the train tracks.
"There were several children playing on the tracks and throwing rocks at passing trains and I was telling these boys, ‘You need to stop throwing those rocks!' One of the boys said, ‘You're not my mom,'" Earle recalls.
She has raised two boys of her own and she says she knows kids are attracted to danger. But she wants to send out a warning that these trains are not toys…and they cannot usually stop.
"Boys will be boys," Earle says. "I also had a child who did something stupid. He was swinging from a rope and he ended up at the emergency room because the rope broke and he went head first to the ground."
In videos posted to YouTube, jumping train tracks and beating a moving train is viewed as a type of sport. But Tennessee's Operation Lifesaver says playing near trains is actually against the law.
"What most people don't realize about railroad tracks is that they're private property," said a representative. "If you're on private property without permission, then you're trespassing and you can be ticketed and fined for that."
The bottom line? Train tracks are not a playground…and trains are definitely not toys.
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