Concord homeless man seen under train hours before it killed him
In this photo taken the day he died, Shaune Milligan, second from left, holds a cigarette.
He is joined by Stretch, far left, Bryan and Craig both giving the peace sign.
(DAN CURRY / For the Monitor)
Mug shot of Shaune Milligan
The building off of Storrs Street where Shaune Milligan was living before being arrested and thrown out.
(GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff)
The area behind Sal's Pizza near 80 Storrs Street where the homeless
man Shaune Milligan, 49, died last week.
(GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff)
As word officially broke yesterday about the death of Shaune Milligan, a 49-year-old Concord homeless man whose body was found Saturday on the train tracks near Storrs Street, it hardly seemed news to the population he had for years called his own.
No one had heard from Milligan recently, and his name had been circulating ever since the police reported the unidentified find Saturday, acquaintances and homeless volunteers said.
Speculation had already turned to the tougher questions: how and why had he died.
One woman said she heard he had been stabbed and thrown onto the tracks. Another said he had fallen asleep and been run over by a rail car. Others insisted he had drunkenly crawled under a parked train and had passed out before reaching the other side.
Dan Curry, a local photographer who has been shooting Milligan and other homeless men in the area, said he visited the group Friday afternoon and found them gathered under the train, drinking beers and trying to stay dry.
“I told them, ‘You guys are crazy,’ ” he said. “And they said, ‘If it starts to move, we’ll just get out of the way.’ ”
The police said yesterday that an investigation was ongoing, but that an autopsy showed that Milligan had been struck or otherwise impacted by a train sometime late Friday night. Lt. Timothy O’Malley, a spokesman, said there were no signs of prior assaults or other factors.
“Nothing that we can find yet that would indicate foul play,” he said.
A train carrying military vehicles and other supplies had been parked behind Market Basket for several hours Friday night, and O’Malley
said investigators were looking into whether Milligan had climbed under it on his own accord. Toxicology results, which would show whether he was inebriated at the time, were still pending. No eyewitnesses had come forward to the police as of yesterday.
O’Malley declined to comment on the state of the body when the police arrived on scene about 11:45 a.m., after receiving at least one 911 call. Larry Knight, a homeless veteran who camps a few yards away and was a friend of Milligan’s, said authorities had to carry the corpse out in two large black bags.
“He was the nicest guy,” Knight said. “He loved to drink.”
Milligan was arrested for trespassing in the area last month, O’Malley said. An officer on bike patrol found him and a few others in a small abandoned railroad building adjacent to the state Liquor Commission’s administrative office, at 50 Storrs St. O’Malley said the company that owns the building, Pan Am Railways, boarded it up this spring because it was unsafe and had become a popular homeless refuge.
Cynthia Scarano, executive vice president of Pan Am Railways, said the company doesn’t generally install fencing along the tracks unless abutters request it.
“It doesn’t tend to work,” she said. People “just cut the fence and the fence itself becomes a nuisance.”
The tracks along Storrs Street are used sparingly these days, but the New Hampshire National Guard has been shipping equipment recently on them to Michigan for a massive training exercise. Spokesman Greg Heilshorn said he had been told, though, that their last shipment had departed early last week.
Knight said Milligan used to camp near him, in a narrow wooded corridor between the tracks and the commission building. He said they and three others often gathered across the tracks and drank off an old wooden cable spool, referred to as “the table.”
Milligan was a good friend and a generous person, Knight said. The kind of guy who, “if he had the last two drinks, he’d share one with you.”
Others offered similar descriptions, but stressed that Milligan was a serious alcoholic and used drugs, including heroin, spice and prescription painkillers, when he could get them.
“Shaune was a big drinker,” said a homeless man who gave only his first name, Nick. “He liked to drink, especially on warm days.”
“He had a problem with alcohol,” Curry acknowledged. “But that doesn’t make him a bad person.”
Curry said he met Milligan in February and had become friends with him in the months since, meeting regularly to talk or take photographs. Milligan was from New Hampshire and spoke at times about his mother, who is still alive, Curry said. He never mentioned having any children.
Milligan had undergone several partial amputations over the years, Curry said, a result of his homelessness. He had only three toes left at the time of his death.
“He had a hard time getting around,” Curry said.
Curry said it was only by chance that he saw Milligan on Friday. He said he hadn’t heard from him in a few weeks. When he found him there he climbed under the train and spent a few minutes with the group. It was one of those rare moments, Curry said, when Milligan wasn’t drunk.
He added, “I just wish I could have spent more time with him.”
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)