ASTRAKHAN, USSR — E. Frenkel, one of the Soviet Union's growing number of psychic healers and mentalists, claimed he used his powers to stop bicycles, automobiles and streetcars.

He thought he was ready for something bigger, so he stepped in front of a freight train. It didn't work.

The engineer of the train that ran Frenkel over said the psychic stepped onto the tracks with his arms raised, his head lowered and his body tensed.

"First I stopped a bicycle, cars, and a streetcar. Now I'm going to stop a train."

The daily Sovietskaya Rossiya on Sunday said investigators looking into Frenkel's decision to jump in front of a train near the southern city of Astrakhan found the answer in the briefcase he left by the side of the track.

"First I stopped a bicycle, cars, and a streetcar," Frenkel wrote in notes that the investigators found. "Now I'm going to stop a train."

Frenkel apparently felt he had found the secret of psychic-biological power and that his effort to halt a train would be the ultimate test of his powers, according to the notes. He wrote:

Only in extraordinary conditions of a direct threat to my organism will all my reserves be called into action.

In the last few months, the nation has become awash with mentalists and self-proclaimed psychics who are appearing on state-run television, drawing huge crowds, and receiving thousands of letters requesting help.

... Frenkel also had been proclaimed by local television in Astrakhan, a city at the mouth of the Volga River 800 miles southeast of Moscow, as a healer who had managed to help some people, the report said.

The engineer of the train saw Frenkel, dressed in a white shirt, walking along the railroad from a long distance. But only at the last minute did the mentalist drop his brief case and step onto the tracks.

"Emergency braking didn't help, a tragedy occurred," the newspaper said. It did not say what day Frenkel was killed, or provide other details.


Going, Going, Gong:
Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug 21, 1992
  Just what is it with would-be psychics and freight trains?