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‘He was a great kid,’ remembering Ryan Bradley Chapman

SANTA BARBARA, Calif - "Very athletic, talented young kid." That is how Ryan Bradley Chapman's volleyball couch will remember him.

"He was a great kid," said Chad Arneson, Santa Barbara High School Volleyball coach. 

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff Office identified Chapman as the teenage boy who was struck and killed by an Amtrak passenger train Wednesday afternoon in Montecito.

Friends said the 15-year-old was heading to a birthday celebration at Fernald Point Beach before being struck by the train. Neighbors in the area are concerned about people taking a shortcut along the tracks that leads to a chute to get down to the beach.

"It was inevitable. You know, I've mentioned to them before about this, that these accidents happening and people accessing the cove down here, that the only way down to it is from a chute that's up to the railroad tracks," said Robbie Anderson, who lives in the area.

Chapman had just completed his freshman year at Santa Barbara High School according to friends. He had just made the high school's junior varsity basketball team and had played on the junior varsity volleyball and football team.

"He was a good athlete!" said Greg Zuffelato, head basketball coach at Santa Barbara High School.

The school opened a "compassion center" in the alumni room at the high school for students and families.

Chapman is survived by his mother, Kristie Chapman, and his brother Graham who also plays sports at Santa Barbara High School. Chapman's father, Paul, died in March 2022 while skiing in Wyoming with his family.

"There's not one way to process and we all have our different journey of managing grief," said Rachael Steidl, YouthWell Founder & Executive Director.

As Santa Barbara High School students begin their summer break, Steidl recommends for students to think of some self-care and coping strategies during the summer months.

Steidl recommends students creating a list of people they could reach out to, journaling, being outside, and remembering to breathe.

"One of the things that students have told me in the past is they often feel like there is this crisis response within a couple of weeks after a young person passes on campus and then they all disappear," said Steidl. "It maybe weeks or months before [students] respond to it."

Santa Barbara Hospice offers free grief counseling and has resources for parents and young adults.

In response to Your News Channel's request for comment, Amtrak Senior Public Relations Manager Olivia Irvin provided the following statement:

On Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at approximately 1:40pm, Pacific Surfliner train 769 struck a trespasser in the community of Montecito between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara stations. This was a confirmed fatality involving a minor. The strike occurred on single track. Local law enforcement and emergency personnel responded. There have been no reported injuries to the crew or 186 passengers onboard. Crew requested and was granted relief at the scene. Amtrak police department is working with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department to investigate the incident. 

Preventing incidents and fatalities on the railroad is a priority for the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency and Amtrak. According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), trespassing along railroad rights-of-way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America, and railroad-highway grade crossing incidents are the second leading cause of rail-related deaths in America. These incidents can affect everyone involved—those who are injured or die and their families, our train crews, and our passengers. They also serve as critical reminders about the importance of obeying the law and of exercising extreme caution around railroad tracks and grade crossings. The LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency and Amtrak continue to work closely with Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) to #STOPTrackTragedies by emphasizing the obvious dangers of being on railroad property or disregarding warnings at rail crossings. For more railroad safety information, please visit

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