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Homeless woman hit by train remembered as being sweet, feisty
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Gainesville Police Department and Norfolk Southern investigators check the train tracks where a woman was killed early Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, near Georgia Avenue in Gainesville .

A woman was killed by a passing train in Gainesville on Thursday, Sept. 20. 

Jennifer Johnson, 32, was struck on or beside the railroad tracks where they pass near Georgia Avenue and under the Queen City Parkway bridge around 6 a.m., according to family and friends who spoke with The Times. 

It wasn’t immediately clear why Johnson was on or beside the tracks, and Gainesville Police and Norfolk Southern, the owner of the rail line, are investigating the incident. 

The operators of the train attempted to warn her away from the tracks using lights and a horn, according to Gainesville Police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Holbrook. 

Johnson had been homeless for a number of years. She was known to sleep at a wooded encampment nearby. 

She was also a frequent visitor to The Way, a day center and mission for the homeless on Bradford Street just blocks from the incident scene. 

Family and friends said Johnson had her troubles, but she had her charms, too.  

“She was so sweet, and she’d do anything for you,” said Leslie Fuller, who frequents The Way.

Susan Peck, who cooks and serves meals at The Way regularly, said Johnson “had a big heart.”

“Jennifer was a sweet little girl,” she added.

She could be feisty, too. 

But her attitude is what Jimmy Parr, Johnson’s brother, will remember most.

“She wouldn’t take nothing from nobody,” he said. “I loved that about her.”

Parr said the two spent much of their childhood in foster care, but always tried to look out for one another.

Pastor Jerry Deyton, founder of The Way, said Johnson’s death reminded him of a question he was once asked. 

“Do you think there is good in everybody? Yes,” Deyton said. “I know good and well there was good in Jennifer. She could be just as sweet as she wanted to be.”

Parr said he hoped that his sister didn’t suffer and he prayed that he’d see her in heaven some day.

“Jennifer meant everything to me,” he said. “We didn’t always act like it, but that’s my sister. I love her and will always love her. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be there for her more than I was.” 

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Just before investigators left the scene where a woman was killed by a train on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, a man walked up to the area asking for information about the deceased. He appeared to know her and was interviewed by officers. The Gainesville Police Department hasn't yet released the identity of the woman.
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