COPPERAS COVE, Texas (KWTX) On breaks from rebuilding cars, 29-year-old Kurtis Roemeling would often visit a nearby store with his best friend.
Photo courtesy: Family of Kurtis Roemeling
"They would like to go over to the 7-Eleven and get a scratch off and a drink - everything was just like a normal day," says his mother Angela Henderson.
But in March, unlike a normal day, instead of driving Kurtis walked.
And instead of his usual path, he took a shortcut on the train tracks in Copperas Cove.
Soon after, he was hit by an oncoming train.
"He was wearing his earbuds in his ear, and it seemed like his music was really loud," says Henderson, relaying details from the preliminary police investigation.
"The train blew the whistle four times, and he didn't jump. He didn't turn around. He just didn't hear it."
Police say Kurtis did not move off the tracks as the conductor applied the emergency brake.
Online in comments sections under posts bearing the initial news, some wondered if he wanted to end his life.
"My son loved life more than anybody," says Henderson.
His family believes he would have never given up on his new trade, finding love and most of all, his three-year-old son.
But they say Kurtis walked those tracks wearing a new pair of noise-isolating headphones- designed to seal out sounds.
"Those earbuds were always in his ear, headphones-earbuds; he loved music," adds his mother.
Two years ago, also in March, a high school student was hit by a train in the same area with headphones on.
After learning about that case, Henderson is teaming up with the social campaign #OneEarOut.
She is helping to encourage others to stay alert.
"Leave one ear free, so you can hear if there's a car behind you or a train behind you," she says.
The organizers of the campaign lost their own daughter in 2016 when she was hit by a train while wearing headphones.
"I never thought in a million years I'll be standing here talking about this, but it can happen to you," Henderson tears up.
"My son was 29 years old he was a grown man- he should have known better, but it can happen to anybody at any age."
Together they want to end a growing epidemic of death by distracted headphone use.
"Listen to the world. Don't tune out so much," she says.
That's the message she hopes gets out loud and clear.