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‘Everybody loved her’: Loved ones remember teen hit, killed by train

SOUTH FAYETTE TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A teenager was killed by a train and two of her friends took desperate measures to try to survive.

The teens were walking across a train trestle near the intersection of Wabash Avenue and Millers Run Road in South Fayette around 11 a.m. Wednesday. Two other friends were walking on the ground nearby, police said.

A train struck a 15-year-old girl, killing her. She was identified by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office as Julianna Gennaro.

“She was a very nice person. She was so smart. Beautiful. Everybody loved her. She was so sweet. She had goals in life I wish she didn’t have to leave so soon,” said Julianna’s sister, Alexis Gennaro said.

Alexis was walking on the road next to the trestle and saw it happen.

“We didn’t hear anything. My friend Elijah, one of the people who was with her, he said, ‘There’s a train coming!’ But it was coming so fast,” Alexis said. “The train came and I guess it knocked her off and she fell, and I watched her fall.”

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A 17-year old girl who was also on the trestle jumped over and hung onto the ledge until the train passed. Channel 11 has learned a friend and nearby contractor ran over to help and pulled her to safety. She is expected to survive.

A teenage boy who was also walking on the tracks shouted ‘train’ and then quickly – perhaps instinctively – made a move that would save his life.

“He like laid down on the tracks. I guess and Aaliyah the other girl up there, she was hanging off the side. My sister went to try to do that, but the train bumped into her and it made her fall,” Alexis said.

Phoennik said his department is constantly urging people to avoid walking across the train trestle.

The nearby intersection has now become a memorial with Julianna’s picture, letters, and flowers for her.

It’s a reminder to Alexis of the sister and best friend that she will miss forever.

“She wasn’t just my sister. She was my best friend. We did everything together. I won’t be able to see her anymore and it just hurts,” Alexis said.

The South Fayette School District superintendent Dr. Kenneth Lockette told Channel 11 he’s heartbroken. The district sent a letter to the community with resources.

“Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members, It is with tremendous sadness that we have been informed of a recent loss to our school community. On Wednesday, June 24, 2020, we became aware of a student fatality. With heavy hearts, we know that this loss will raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our entire community, especially our students and staff.

The South Fayette Township School District has a Crisis Intervention Team made up of professionals trained to help with the needs of students, parents/guardians, and community members at difficult times such as this.

On our campus, we have counselors available for any student who may need or want help or any type of assistance surrounding this loss. These trained professionals will be available to receive phone calls and emails for the purposes of arranging counseling services. Please contact 412-221-4542 x428 or email Amy Brooks at in order to be connected to the appropriate resource. Should you need assistance outside of the District hours of 7:15 AM - 4:00 PM (Monday through Thursday), please contact Resolve Crisis Network at 1-888-796-8226 (24 Hour Service). More information can also be found at their website:

Please use the following link for additional information that may be useful to you in helping access counseling resources for your child or children at home.

We are deeply saddened by the loss to our school community and will make every effort to help you and your child or children through this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”