Man struck, killed by train in Palo Alto

24-year-old man 'acted intentionally,' Caltrain reports

A 24-year-old man from Sunnyvale was killed at about 7:30 p.m. Monday evening (Feb. 28) when southbound Caltrain No. 284 struck him at the Palo Alto station at University Avenue, Caltrain reported.

A "preliminary investigation indicates that the person acted intentionally," a Caltrain press release stated.

Officers found a blood-stained piece of paper at the scene, according to a police scanner report. Emergency personnel included the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office and Palo Alto police.

Crime-scene tape covered the area around the Marguerite shuttle stop, an eyewitness said. The entrances to the underpass between the northbound and southbound tracks were also blocked off.

The train stopped south of the Stanford station with approximately 115 passengers onboard. It was cleared to leave the scene at about 8:39 p.m., Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn stated in a press release.

Train No. 284 operates as a local train from San Francisco to Menlo Park. It had been scheduled to stop at the Mountain View station and the Santa Clara station, arriving in San Jose at 7:55 p.m. The train was not scheduled to stop at the Palo Alto station. Caltrain is authorized to operate at a maximum speed of 79 miles an hour.

The northbound track was re-opened for trains traveling at reduced speed at 8:25 p.m., and the track continued to serve both north- and south-bound trains as of 9:45 p.m.

A bus driver for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority who declined to give his name spoke about the incident. He had been dispatched to the Palo Alto Caltrain station to pick up passengers who were delayed by accident, but he found fewer passengers than usual opting for the bus.

He said he didn't understand why a person would commit suicide.

"The family will be suffering. ... It makes me a little sad," he said.

Gesturing to a train that was pulling into the station, he said: "These are the people who are affected."

This is the fourth Caltrain fatality on the right-of-way this year. Last year there were 11 fatalities on the Caltrain right-of-way; of those nine were determined by the coroner to be suicides and two are pending final investigation, Dunn stated.

Last year, Caltrain installed 250 suicide prevention signs along a 10-mile stretch of the right-of-way between Menlo Park and Mountain View.

The signs, which have a hotline number to a local crisis intervention agency, are part of national study to test the effectiveness of signs in preventing suicides on railroads. The calls are tracked to determine if the signs are an effective tool for suicide prevention.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff


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Posted by MOM
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Mar 1, 2011 at 1:28 pm


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Posted by jupiterk
a resident of Gemello
on Mar 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm

It is heart wrenching to think that a 24 year person doing this kind of act. I guess things must have been so bad for him that prompted him to seek a sad decision. Not sure if this is anything to do with this economy or what not. I wish our society would become more empathetic and also hope that the greedy public officials would let the tax payers money used for society instead of them taking home in salaries and benefits and buying luxury goods. Shame on you all city officials, school officials,police,fire fighters,etc...

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Posted by Connie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm

This suicide is very sad and the U.S. is going through tough times. I do question why there is so much anger towards teachers and government workers. Bankers around the world cheated taxpayers and created a world-wide economic disaster. Even conservative pieces like "The Economist" fully acknowledge this point. The rich are united in protecting the rich. The rest of us are too busy fighting each other to protect themselves. Come on, teachers & government workers are the enemy, seriously?

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Posted by Charles
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2011 at 4:27 pm

To: jupiterk, a resident of the Gemello neighborhood, You said city officials, police, fire fighters, and SCHOOLS are the ones to blame? As someone who proudly works for the public schools, I don't see how they can be related. If anything, teachers should be paid more.

You might as well blame professional athletes or actors who are paid millions $$. That's where our society is wrong.

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Posted by W-Park Dude
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 1, 2011 at 6:00 pm

How you can somehow equate pension reform with this young man's hopelessness & despair, and ultimate tragedy, is beyond reason. Jupiterk minus the U-P-I-T says it all. My heart goes out to those people close to this gentleman for his untimely death.

Like this comment
Posted by Surferjeff
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 1, 2011 at 6:25 pm

In Japan, when someone commits suicide on the tracks and trains are delayed, the family is charged for the railroad's lost revenue. Maybe we should try it too.

Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Jupiterk is just ignorant. If the wind blows, he will blame it also on city/school officials.

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Posted by k
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 2, 2011 at 9:48 am

"The calls are tracked to determine if the signs are an effective tool for suicide prevention."

Great. That will probably actually DETER people from using that service if they know that. Sigh. I don't think that's something you should publicize.

Like this comment
Posted by jupiterk
a resident of Gemello
on Mar 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I'm sorry. I was off my meds yesterday so I was a complete idiot.

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Posted by Mele'
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2011 at 9:08 pm

There is still a social stigma in our society regarding mental illness. There's money bookmarked for the building of fences, to prevent train jumpers, but the money from social services and counseling that actually benefits those that are mentally ill-- those who could be potentially be suicidal are cut. And, many in society still think talking about suicide is a taboo subject, when studies show actually talking about it reduces the incidences. We have much to learn about mental health in this country.

Like this comment
Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 7, 2011 at 7:59 pm

There is one guaranteed way to reduce Caltrain suicides and that is to stop belly aching and support the construction of high speed rail on the peninsula corridor. IF they build it correctly and IF they OPERATE it correctly, the ability for a suicidal person to even get close to a train is severely reduced.

There will be no more grade crossings. Vehicular collisions with trains will cease. Access to the tracks will become very difficult, except at platforms. If they operate the express trains on the inner two of the four tracks, they can be completely fenced, even in the stations. The only way someone could step in front of one is when a train is stopping at the platform. This is less likely to occur since a suicidal person is apt to not want to be stopped by bystanders.

But what does Caltrain do? Spends millions on ineffective crossing gates and fences that do not keep a determined suicidal person off the tracks. The railroad has operated 150 years without major issues, but they still think a little unlocked gate and a sign will stop someone. They are $30million short for their budget, but are spending millions on capital projects that will be torn up and removed in less than ten years.

Where is the logic in this people??????

There is none. it is simply overpaid public officials more concerned with maintaining their paychecks and pensions than operating an effective and efficient railroad...

Like this comment
Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 7, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Oh yeah... and to the staff writers...

You don't get struck by a train, you step in front of a train...

You don't get killed by a train, you kill yourself and use the train as your suicidal device.

The headline should read, "man kills himself by stepping in front of train".

It's not the train's fault. It never is. People and objects getting hit by trains are not accidents. They are intentional and or negligent acts of stupidity...

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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