Two people died in separate incidents on the Caltrain tracks Thursday, in what may be the deadliest day ever for the transit agency.
Passengers were stranded for up to 90 minutes beginning at 7:15 a.m., when an Asian man, reported to be about 40 years old, jumped in front of a northbound train as it passed through the Mountain View station, officials said. The victim, in an apparent suicide, was hit at nearly 80 miles an hour, with the impact traumatizing some witnesses and requiring extensive cleanup, Caltrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg said.
Before trains could get back to full capacity, a second fatality was reported just before noon between Whipple and Howard avenues at the Redwood City-San Carlos border. The victim, Jóse Alvarez, 18, was fatally hit by a northbound train as he and three friends and students of Redwood High Continuation School reportedly tried to cross the tracks. Alvarez did not attend the school. One of the students reportedly told Alvarez not to try to beat the train just prior to the incident, his cousin, Arthur Piñon, told The Examiner.
"He was into boxing and said he wanted to go pro," said Piñon, 18, who rode his bike to Bellafatto Boxing Academy in Redwood City to break the news to Alvarez’ coach of four years.
The coach, Eloy Ramirez, fought back tears as he recalled Alvarez asking him to hold onto a trophy boxing belt he won recently that read, "We did it!"
"He was a real good athlete," Ramirez said. "He was like a son to me."
Alvarez, a Hayward resident, took up carpentry and worked for his brother for a while after dropping out of Sequoia High about two years ago, Piñon said.
Weinberg was unaware of the last time, if ever, two deaths occurred on the tracks on the same day. "We hate to see any fatality on our line, especially when it was perfectly avoidable as in this case," he said.
The midday incident delayed passengers who were taking Caltrain to the Giants’ home opener at AT&T Park.