A beloved pet dog, whose owner was tragically killed on the train tracks in Austell, has been reunited with family after more than a week on the loose.
Marley, a little white dog, has been the subject of a community-wide search since his owner, 53-year-old Austell resident Gerald Hannon, was fatally struck by a freight train at the Powder Springs Road crossing near Veterans Memorial Highway around 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 11.
Marley was with Hannon at the time, on a leash, and was seen running away from the tracks, according to witnesses.
For eight days, the little dog evaded capture as townsfolk searched him out so he could continue to be cared for.
Many in the small Austell community knew of Hannon, who used a motorized wheelchair to get around, and his dog Marley, remarking that the two were inseparable.
“He’s come in a couple times, but normally I just see him riding around,” said Rebekah Green, a server at the South Cobb Diner. “Normally he has his dog with him, either running behind him or sitting on his lap.”
Austell Police Chief Bob Starrett, who has been fielding calls from residents about Marley’s well-being ever since Hannon’s death, said he and a fellow police officer found the dog Tuesday night, not far from Hannon’s home.
“Sgt. Robert Sfreddo had seen Marley in the area before and we returned there last night,” Starrett told the MDJ Wednesday. “He ran off but we soon found him and managed to catch him.”
Starrett contacted Hannon’s father, who lives in Cedartown, and handed Marley over to the family.
Hannon and Marley had previously lived with Hannon’s father in the Cedartown house, so the dog is back on familiar territory, Starrett said.
“This gives the community a good feeling to this sad tragedy,” he said.
Hannon was in his motorized wheelchair on the railroad tracks when he was struck by a northbound freight train, investigators said, adding that the railroad crossing barriers were down at the time and the oncoming train was sounding its whistle.
“He should not have been crossing at that time but being on the motorized wheelchair he went around the crossing guards,” Starrett said.