Too close to tracks? Jogger cited for running near railroad - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Too close to tracks? Jogger cited for running near railroad

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Imagine heading out for a morning run, and after a couple of miles, hearing a police siren and having an Metra officer tell you he's been taking your picture, and you're getting a ticket.

That's what happened to Randall Stern, who had no idea he was running too close to the tracks.

"I never saw any signs, and nobody has ever told me that it's illegal," Stern says.

Randall stern jogs up to 60 miles a week. Last month, he jogged over a 50-yard stretch, just south of a Metra station near Devon.

"I heard this siren behind me, and I froze, and I knew it was a cop," he says. "I had no idea why he was stopping me or anything."

The charge was trespassing on Metra's right of way, even though there aren't any "no trespassing" signs. In fact, we saw others using that path today.

Stern fought the ticket in court and lost. He was hit with almost $200 in court costs, plus $150 fine, or 20 hours of community service. His lawyer says he should have gotten a pass.

"It's completely unreasonable to expect the public to be able to figure what is trespassing and what is not especially when you have such a well-worn area in such a pedestrian-friendly section of the city," says defense attorney Mike Gunderson.

Metra spokesman Mike Gillis says the cops were there that morning to catch pedestrians running between the crossing gates, and they just happened to see Stern trespassing.

Now, Stern is looking for some community service. He says he'll even stand near the area and tell people not to jog on the path.

"I'd do 20 hours of jogging if they wanted me to," Stern says. "Whatever it takes."

FOX 32's Larry Yellen asked the Metra spokesperson whether there had been any thought to putting up a "no trespassing" sign on the property. He said Metra has miles and miles of track and that's not realistic. But why not on this particular stretch? He said couldn't answer that.

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