Caltrain fatality thought to be suicide

The sixth person to be killed by a Caltrain impact this year was hit just south of 19th Avenue in San Mateo on Monday evening, less than 100 yards from the Hayward Park station.

An adult male “presented himself” to a southbound train at approximately 5:45 p.m. Monday, according to SanMateo County Sheriff Cmdr. David Triolo.

The train engineer saw the man as he rounded a bend and attempted to stop using emergency brakes but was unsuccessful. Officials did not say how fast the train was traveling.

The victim was approximately 150 yards from any pedestrian crossings, on a fenced-in stretch of track lined with dry weeds and old railroad ties.

The incident stalled train traffic, and by 6:30 p.m. trains had begun to slowly move through the area on a single track, as officers worked to clear the victim from the tracks.

Caltrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg said the passengers on the train were offloaded onto other southbound trains at approximately 6:45 p.m., but track closure and “single-tracking” meant 30 to 60 minute delays for some routes.

Weinberg said that while the final ruling would come from the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office, preliminary investigations indicated that the death was a suicide.

This was Caltrain’s first August fatality, following the deaths of 21-year-old Maria Nieblas, who was hit and killed by a train while in her car on June 28, and an unknown man, who died while trespassing along tracks on July 5. Both of those deaths occurred in Palo Alto. In 2006, Caltrain set a grisly record after 17 people died during the year.

Caltrain is currently in the middle of the three-year, $7.2 million “Don’t Shortcut Life,” safety project to inform pedestrians and drivers on the dangers around train tracks and discourage people from trespassing or trying to “beat” the train through crossings.

jgoldman@examiner.com


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