Siblings remember mother killed by train in Kennewick

By Tyler Richardson, Tri-City HeraldOctober 24, 2013 

Wakefield Siblings Williams

Casey Wakefield, 23, left, and his sister, Briana Wakefield, 25, share memories about their mother, Melinda Williams, 50, who was killed Monday by a train on the tracks near West Canal Drive and North Volland Street in Kennewick.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

A Kennewick woman killed by a train earlier this week suffered from disabilities that may have contributed to the deadly collision, her family said Thursday.

Melinda Williams, 50, had a hard time walking, writing and hearing, her children said. They speculated their mother sat down on the tracks for a cigarette and couldn't get up in time to avoid the BNSF Railway train near Canal Drive in Kennewick.

"It was hard for my mom to react in stressful situations," said Briana Wakefield, Williams' daughter. "She was clumsy. Even if she was able to get up, she would fall right back down."

Williams overdosed when she was 16 and fell down a flight of stairs, her children said. The overdose put her into a coma and she had to relearn how to live after waking up.

"She had a hard time getting around," said Casey Wakefield, her son. "She was constantly falling. One time when I was 13, she tripped on a speed bump and broke her jaw."

A memorial service for Williams will be held at Grace United Reformed Church in Kennewick at 1 p.m. Saturday. The public is welcome.

Briana spoke to Williams' boyfriend, Samuel W. Frank, on Thursday as he recovered at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, she said. Frank also has some trouble speaking. The couple had been dating about two years.

Frank's arm almost was severed by the train. A passerby tied a tourniquet with his belt around Frank's arm before medics arrived.

Frank, 47, told Briana that doctors were able to reattach his arm and he would need at least two weeks to recover at the Seattle hospital, she said.

Though their conversation was short, Briana could hear the pain in Frank's voice as they spoke, she said.

"He apologized to me," she said. "He told me he loved me enough to tell me he loved me. He said it was a miracle that they were able to sew his arm back on. I can't fathom what he is going through."

Frank was too distraught on the phone to discuss what happened and Briana did not ask him why they were on the tracks, she said. She and Casey said they have no interest in pressing him for an explanation about the collision.

"I don't think anything will be solved until Sam can talk," Briana said. "I hope everyone gives him some time."

Sitting on the porch of Casey's house, the siblings talked about their mother and the last few months they got to spend together as a family.

Both siblings have battled addiction problems in the past, and Williams supported her kids and many others emotionally through those ordeals.

Williams lived in the Tri-Cities for about 30 years and leaves behind four grandchildren, her children said. They are thankful the last memories they have together with their mom are positive.

"It really is a blessing we all got together like this before she passed," Casey said.

w Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; trichardson@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson

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