Police: Man killed by train in Rock Hill wanted for kidnapping, armed robbery

A man was sleeping on these tracks in the 1500 block of Curtis Street when he was struck and killed by a train.
A man was sleeping on these tracks in the 1500 block of Curtis Street when he was struck and killed by a train. adys@heraldonline.com

The Rock Hill man who died after being hit by a train Sunday morning east of downtown has been identified as Stephen Adams, 48. He had been on the run from police for days for alleged armed robbery and kidnapping, officials said.

More, Adams had served at least three stretches in state prison for burglaries, records show.

York County Coroner Sabrina Gast, who released the name Sunday afternoon, is investigating the death of Adams as an accident, according to a written release from the coroner’s office. The police department’s accident reconstruction team and other units are investigating.

However, detectives had been seeking Adams for several days after he was identified as a suspect in a domestic armed robbery and kidnapping against a woman, said Mark Bollinger, spokesman for the Rock Hill Police Department.

“Our detectives had been looking for him after he was identified as a suspect in the kidnapping incident,” Bollinger said.

Adams is suspected of breaking into at least one car late Saturday or early Sunday before he was hit by the train. Adams had property that had been taken earlier in the night from a car break-in on Church Street, Bollinger said.

Church Street and Curtis Street run parallel to the train tracks on either side of the tracks. Adams had been sleeping under a cover on the tracks in the 1500 block of Curtis Street east of downtown when the Norfolk Southern train hit him around 4 a.m. Sunday, Bollinger said. Engineers stopped the train but were not able to stop it before Adams was hit, Bollinger said.

It is unclear why Adams was on the tracks, but tracks generally stay warm during the night, Bollinger said.

Online court records show that Adams had been sentenced to 50 months in prison in 2012 after pleading guilty to felony break-ins of fuel tanks. It remains unclear when Adams was released from prison on those charges, but Adams’ criminal convictions and prison stretches for burglary date back to 2002, including one 15-year sentence that was meshed with other convictions in 2006.

Civil court online records also show that a landlord had sought to evict Adams last month, but the records do not indicate if the eviction went through.

Several residents who live near where Adams was killed were stunned to hear that a train had killed someone but had not seen any of the aftermath or the lights of investigators gathering evidence before dawn.

Two churches – Northside Baptist Church and Bethel United Methodist Church – are located nearby. But the scene was cleared before any traffic problem caused by the train blocking the roadway affected churchgoers, police said.