Director using train accident as teaching moment

By Tarik Minor, Anchor-reporter, tminor@wjxt.com
Published On: Apr 07 2014 04:58:18 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 07 2014 06:21:48 PM EDT

VIDEO: DCF is investigating Saturday's incident where a 15-year-old boy lost his foot after trying to hop on a moving train to make it home for curfew. The teen lives at the Panama Youth Center which has a curfew of midnight.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The 15-year-old boy whose foot was severed after trying to hop a train Saturday night on the Northside was in surgery Monday, according to the director of the group home where he lived.

Police say Jayzon Ahrens tried to get onto the train near at the Main Street intersection because he was trying to make it back to his group home before the juvenile shelter's midnight curfew. 

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said the responding officer applied a tourniquet to Aherns' leg to slow the bleeding. His foot was found about about 100 feet away.

The JSO incident report also said Aherns' breath smelled of alcohol.

The director of Florida Department of Children and Families visited the Panama Youth Home Monday to find out the circumstances surrounding the teenager's life-changing injuries.

The home's director said Ahrens violated the rules by leaving the facility in the first place.

"Anything I can do to protect them, which is within the law, I do," said Willie Green.

Green says he treats the teenagers he's responsible for like they are children of his own.

"He did have some remorse about (how) he handled the situation, and he did say that he messed up and that it's all his fault," Green said.

State law prohibits Green from locking the teenagers inside the house at night, but they are fined if they miss curfew or violate other rules. Green says he's using the loss of Ahrens' foot as a teaching moment about what can happen when you make poor decisions.

"We try to use them as a learning experience, a life experience that can take you further on in life," Green.

Friends say Aherns only planned to ride the train for a couple of blocks but fell as he tried to jump on.

"Obviously you're talking about a 15-year-old being out at midnight. That's a major concern to us," DCF spokesman John Harrell said. "We want to know, did he just run out without telling people at the group home where he was supposed to be?"

Harrell says he expects a thorough investigation even though Panama Youth Services may have done nothing wrong.

"Where was he in the foster care system before this? What were the circumstances,? Any behavior issue? What concerns does he have that he wasn't treated fairly?" Harrell said.

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