Caltrain deaths surpass total from last year

Despite the screamed warnings of waiting commuters, a woman wandered onto the tracks at the San Bruno Caltrain station Monday and was killed by a northbound train.

The victim, whose name has not been released, was the ninth person fatally struck by a Caltrain this year, Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn said.

An engineer reported seeing a woman lie down on the tracks at 1:15 p.m. but was unable to stop, Dunn said.

A group of teenagers waiting for a southbound train about 200 feet away said they saw a pedestrian, who appeared to be looking downward and not paying attention, wander into the train’s path after the crossing arm had descended.

A nearby teenage girl screamed for the pedestrian to stop and other onlookers began yelling “train, train,” said 17-year-old Eric Nickelson, of Millbrae. Nickelson said the pedestrian appeared panicked before stumbling and falling on the tracks.

Amtrak signal maintenance worker Brian Jones, who came upon the scene a short time later, said the woman appeared to be in her 20s with short black hair.

Jones said it was the first time he had dealt with a death on the tracks since he began his job and it had left him shaken.

“It was hard for me,” he said. “I’m not good with that kind of stuff.”

The San Mateo County coroner will determine whether the incident was a suicide or an accident. Of the nine deaths this year, five have been suicides and one has been ruled an accident. The results of the other three investigations are pending.

Caltrain’s southbound track was reopened at 1:45 p.m., which allowed trains to move in both directions. Passengers on the train that struck the woman were transferred to another train at 2 p.m. and both tracks were opened for maximum speed at 3:15 p.m.

The woman’s death marks the second fatality at the San Bruno station in two and a half months. Anthony Rea, 15, was killed April 19 as he rode his skateboard around a lowered crossing gate while wearing headphones.

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

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