HIGHLANDS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The Avon Park community is grieving the loss of a 13-year old boy who was struck and killed by a train while walking home from school Monday afternoon.

“Our hearts are absolutely broken for Malik and for his family,” said John Varady, coordinator of communications and special projects for the School Board of Highlands County. “This is an unimaginable tragedy and it has hit the school very hard.”

Malik Khalil Pearson is described by current and former teachers and staff as an energetic young man, a bright light and a “joy.”

According to the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, Pearson was hit by an Amtrak train at a railroad crossing at West Bell Street and South Feagin Avenue, just a few minutes after school dismissal.

Amtrak train 92 was traveling from Miami to New York City, an Amtrak representative said in a statement.

“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 crossings,” the representative wrote.

Counselors along with a Highlands County Sheriff’s office therapy dog, were available on campus for students and staff Tuesday.

Tena Jordon, an Avon Park mother said she and her two daughters witnessed the incident Monday afternoon.

“It affected me by parents losing a child,” she said. “I go through it every morning and it bothers me that there’s not someone there. There should be a person on both sides.”

Scott Dressel, a public information officer with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office said it is a challenge to fill existing crossing guard positions.

It would be even harder to add them to every railroad crossing in the county, he said.

“All but one school is within walking distance of this railroad track. So you’ve got students going to every school in our county, probably, that are crossing this track at one point or another,” he said.

The crossing is owned by CSX, according to Dressel.

There are crossing arms over the road but not the sidewalk, where Pearson was crossing.

CSX has not yet responded to News Channel 8’s request for comment.

“I think anything that can be done to make railroad crossings safer should be done,” said Dressel.

Dressel said the sheriff’s office will be increasing educational and awareness programs at the schools to remind students and parents to understand the dangers at railroad crossings.

“When you’ve got that hoodie up and the earbuds on and you’re looking at your phone, your world is shrunk down to about two inches and you’re not seeing anything else that’s going around you and that’s dangerous no matter where you are,” said Dressel.