Mountain View Voice

News - May 8, 2009

Two train fatalities in two days

by Staff Reports

Two people were killed by trains in as many days after the victims lingered on the tracks north of Mountain View. Authorities believe both incidents were suicides.

The first occurred on Monday at 11:30 a.m., when a woman reportedly sat down on the tracks just north of the San Antonio train station. The woman, later identified as 29-year-old Heather Russell of Palo Alto, entered the southbound tracks behind an apartment complex on Del Medio Avenue at the Mountain View/Palo Alto border, according to officials.

The area, which is surrounded by shrubbery and not easily seen, is one of the few access points not barricaded by a tall chain-link fence.

"She sat down between the gauge of the tracks. The engineer went into emergency braking and honked the horn, then the train struck her," said Detective Victor Lopez of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office Transit Police Bureau.

The second possible suicide happened Tuesday at about 8:30 a.m., after a train hit a Gunn High School student on the tracks near East Meadow Drive in Palo Alto. Investigators said the victim, described as an Asian male and a junior at the high school, walked around the crossing arms just before a northbound commute train hit him.

Both victims died at the scenes. Caltrain was delayed both Monday and Tuesday morning as trains were single-tracked around the accidents. The Santa Clara County coroner is investigating the incidents.

The Caltrain-related deaths are the first and second for 2009. Last year there were 16 Caltrain-related deaths, 13 of which were categorized as suicides.

Bay City News contributed to this report.


Posted by RAndy Jimenz, a resident of Shoreline West
on May 9, 2009 at 9:38 am

This is just a tragic way to possibly end your own life. I believe what these 2 people did were wrong, but I will be here praying for them and their families.

god bless,
Randy Jimenez

Posted by Anon, a resident of another community
on May 11, 2009 at 3:59 pm

what randy said is true it is the worst possible way to go. And randy my condolences mike was a great man and he will be missed!!

Posted by SP Dave, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2009 at 10:21 pm

I am sorry to see anyone take their life but to put this on the engineer of a train when all he or she is thinking of is the safety of their cargo is a very selfish and cruel act. I was an engineer working the commute trains and can only thank God that I didn't have anyone commit suicide on my watch but I did have friends that went through hell after being at the throttle when someone choose them as an instrument of death. These people were horibly scared by these events and one close friend turned into an alcoholic and later died of the desease. I can't tell you how bad I felt just trying to blow the horn and ring the bell when a dog would run in front of the train. I can't imagine what it must feel like to be helplessly placed in a position of executioner in a matter of seconds. I feel very sad for these crew members that have to go back to work and re live this over and over every day. Say a prayer for them.

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