Girl, 13, dies at Palo Alto train crossing

A passenger train struck and killed a girl on the tracks Friday night in Palo Alto at the same crossing where two teenagers were fatally hit by trains earlier this summer, according to Caltrain spokesperson Christine Dunn.

The girl was a 13-year-old Terman Middle School student, Dunn said, who was struck by a southbound train at around 10:45 p.m. at the East Meadow Drive crossing. Palo Alto police and paramedics were the first ones on the scene, and a suicide note was found there, she said.

The girl is among 10 people to be fatally struck by a Caltrain train this year, including two in Mountain View: a 29-year-old woman in May and a 42-year-old woman just two weeks ago. Both were killed near the San Antonio station.

Palo Alto's East Meadow Drive crossing, meanwhile, has seen several teenage suicides this year. On May 5, a 17-year-old boy was struck and killed there; messages from officials at Gunn High School, where the boy was a student, indicated his death was a suicide. Another Gunn student, a 17-year-old girl, was killed by a train on June 2, also at that crossing.

In response to the latest incident, Palo Alto police plan "a large presence" at schools and train crossings this week to reach out to the community's young people. Dunn said Caltrain officials will soon be working alongside a mental health task force that will include mental-health professionals.

"This is a community issue that needs to be addressed," she said.

— Palo Alto Weekly


Like this comment
Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2009 at 2:48 pm

AC is a registered user.

I can't help but wonder what a 13-year old girl was doing on the train tracks at 10:45pm. Moreover I can't help but wonder what she was doing on the train tracks at 10:45pm and unable to hear the horn or see the bright three lights on the front of the train.

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Posted by ah duh
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Aug 24, 2009 at 3:13 pm

To AC, what was she doing there? unable to hear the horn or see the bright lights? didn't you read the article? the girl was committing suicide, "suicide note was found there"....

Like this comment
Posted by Singh
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2009 at 3:14 pm

TYPO SHE WAS 16 and that is young

Like this comment
Posted by Jessica
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 24, 2009 at 3:23 pm

I agree, why is a teenager of that age doing out at that time of night?

Parent's nowadays need to be "strict" with their children. Not point the fingers at these parents who I'm sure are grieving but as a whole, many parents today do not know how to be good parents. I am in the education field so I speak from first hand experience.

Like this comment
Posted by Les
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 24, 2009 at 5:07 pm

To Jessica,

You are in the education field, but are you a PARENT? It is so easy to say that parents need to be more "strict". But, you have no idea what happened. There are so many scenarios here - the parents think the girl was at a sleep away at her friends as one example.

Remember that many say that teachers need to be better at their jobs - that is not always the case, but it is easy to say when you are not one of them

Like this comment
Posted by Char
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2009 at 5:50 pm

I don't think that is a typo. All other news agencies reported that she was 13. I recently watched a very tragic but honest documentary about a teenage boy who committed suicide. It is called "Boy Interrupted" and it is on HBO. This story is just about that boy, so I am not suggesting a comparison to this story. It is a very honest look at suicide and one family's experience with this tragedy.
I think these tracks have to be treated like bridges and have a suicide barriers, bridges and traffic tunnels built. I agree with a poster on the Palo Alto board who suggested we all "boycott" these crossings and drive an extra mile to an established bridge crossing.

Like this comment
Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2009 at 2:29 pm

AC is a registered user.

ah duh: I think this article got updated after my first post. I can promise you that I had in fact read it, and I would have noticed the suicide note comment.

Thanks for the correction.

Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 25, 2009 at 9:03 pm


Are you serious? What does being out past 10pm have to do with this story? The poor girl obviously had other things going on apart from being out late.


Like this comment
Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Don, please follow the example of the PA Weekly and shut down this thread. Its only going to get stupider

Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 26, 2009 at 12:37 am

Char, it's commendable that you want to prevent these tragedies, but do you really think suicide barriers, bridges, and traffic tunnels would do so? that it would make people stop killing themselves instead of just finding another way? or that you could enumerate and guard against all the possible ways in which people can easily kill themselves? are you willing to create a nightmarish world without freedom or excitement in order to try?

I think the only way to stop this is to make people stop wanting to kill themselves. Otherwise, you might as well slap a "mission accomplished" banner on your shiny new barricade.

Like this comment
Posted by Linda Musgrave
a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2009 at 6:27 am

This is a terrible tragety and the relatives and parents are suffering much. Her Aunt especially.

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