A 20-year-old Columbus man is hit by a train and investigators aren’t sure how he got to the tracks or why.

A crew member on a northbound Alabama Gulf Railroad train noticed Joseph Anthony Paone, of 480 E. Ellis Road, on the tracks just before 3:20 a.m. Thursday and realized the train may have hit him, according to Lowndes County Sheriff Mike Arledge.

Paone was about 250 feet from Matson Road off Military Road just north of Columbus along the tracks owned by Burlington Northern.

When emergency responders reached him, Paone was largely unresponsive, only able to mumble and groan, Arledge said.

Paone was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle and then was transferred to University Medical Center in Jackson.

Arledge said deputies and responders don’t know whether alcohol might have been involved or how he got to the area because they didn’t immediately find a vehicle. But he said his deputies don’t think any foul play was involved and will turn the case over to railroad investigators.