A recent spate of tragedies along the tracks has everyone, perhaps especially Caltrain engineers, on edge. But among the horrible stories is one from Mountain View with a relatively happy ending: a near miss, where the engineer was able to stop the train in time.
The incident occurred last Tuesday, Aug. 18, at about 3:30 p.m., when a woman described as a 65-year-old got in front of a southbound passenger train as it approached the San Antonio station.
"It was a woman who was attempting to commit suicide," confirmed Caltrain spokesperson Christine Dunn.
According to news reports, the engineer, Robert Orantes, had begun applying his brakes early on the way into the station, and when he saw the woman move from the platform, he threw the train into emergency mode.
His efforts were successful: The train stopped within inches of the woman, reportedly so close that the engineer could not even see her from inside the cab. When the train was stopped, Orantes then rushed out to restrain the woman.
The woman was detained by authorities and hospitalized. Orantes finished the five hours left in his shift.
"Everything just worked out right, so it was a very lucky situation," Dunn said.
Generally, suicides are more easily prevented by moving the person than by stopping the train. Since the beginning of this year, Dunn said, authorities "have received a report of someone behaving strangely (near the tracks) and successfully intervened" a total of 13 times.