BY PAUL LEIGHTON AND NEIL H. DEMPSEY STAFF WRITERS
The Salem News
---- — PEABODY — Less than two weeks before Halloween, the iParty on Andover Street was crammed with people searching out holiday masks and decorations last night.
But for store employee Erick Hrubes, there was one person conspicuously absent: his friend Dominic DeMartino, the 18-year-old killed by a train in Salem the night before. The two had been scheduled to work together last night.
“He had one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever known,” Hrubes said. “That couldn’t have happened to a better guy.”
DeMartino grew up in Salem, worked seasonally at iParty over the past couple of years and had attended Salem High School, Hrubes said, adding that his biggest enjoyments were skateboarding and hanging out with friends.
“Everything in his life revolved around his friends.”
Authorities suspect that alcohol may have been a contributing factor in the train accident that killed DeMartino, who lived at 19 Aborn St., Apt. 2, in Salem. He was struck just after 10 p.m. by a Newburyport-bound commuter rail train on the tracks near Ocean Avenue and Broadway behind the McDonald’s restaurant on Canal Street.
MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said transit police detectives “have developed information that suggests alcohol may have been a contributing factor in the incident, but the investigation remains active.”
DeMartino was not alone at the time of the incident, he said. According to the Salem police log, two men were placed into protective custody after the accident: an 18-year-old from Gloucester and a 19-year-old from Salem.
“Both parties were on the tracks in an intoxicated state,” wrote police.
Pesaturo said investigators have found no reason to question the manner in which the train was being operated.
Passengers were taken off the train and taken to their destinations on two buses, officials said.
DeMartino was later pronounced dead at North Shore Medical Center Salem Hospital.
The incident is under investigation by the Essex District Attorney’s Office, the MBTA, and Salem police.
A woman who answered the door yesterday at 19 Aborn St. declined comment.