Mountain View Voice

News - February 25, 2011

Caltrain hits car near Castro Street

by Nick Veronin

A passenger train hit a car near downtown Mountain View early Friday morning, Feb. 18, police said.

No one was injured, but a young woman — the owner of the truck — was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to Mountain View police spokeswoman Liz Wylie. Wylie said the woman blew a .20 blood alcohol level, which is more than twice the legal limit.

The woman, 21-year-old Kari Olson of Palo Alto, had been drinking in downtown Mountain View before she accidentally turned onto the Caltrain tracks at the Castro Street crossing at about 1 a.m. on Feb. 18, Wylie said.

Wylie said that the woman told the responding officer she had been confused at the intersection of Castro Street and Central Expressway, and while looking for Highway 101 turned onto the tracks.

An off-duty officer, just leaving the police station, turned onto Evelyn Avenue and saw the car between the two sets of railroad tracks, Wylie said. The driver was standing next to the vehicle, which she had driven about 100 yard from Castro Street.

The officer's report said that the car was parked perpendicular to the tracks, indicating that she had perhaps tried to turn the vehicle around, Wylie said. The officer told the woman to move away from the car and to safety, which she did.

The officer attempted to have stop any inbound trains stopped, but it was too late, Wylie said. A minute or so later, a Caltrain train came down the tracks and clipped the front of the car.

Amtrak engineers and San Mateo County Sheriff's deputies responded to assess the damage and take care of the accident portion of the case, which happened within their jurisdiction, Wylie said. Mountain View police handled the DUI case.

Olson was arrested and later released to a sober driver who came to retrieve her from the police station.

The tracks were closed for about four hours.

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