Muni train drags man to his death

A 40-year-old man was killed when he was dragged nearly three blocks by an N-Judah light-rail train in the Sunset district Wednesday night, marking the first Muni fatality of the year and the latest in a growing number of Muni-versus-pedestrian accidents.

Mark Callaghan, a San Francisco resident, was pulled under the N-Judah at the intersection of Judah Street and 31st Avenue, and was dragged to 28th Avenue, according to police.

The train’s male operator was unaware he had hit Callaghan and was dragging him along the popular commuter route until a motorist alerted him, according to Muni spokesperson Janis Yuen.

Callaghan attempted to board an inbound N-Judah just after 9 p.m., according to police Sgt. Neville Gittens. He fell and was dragged under the light-rail vehicle, according to witnesses. There are conflicting witness accounts as to how Callaghan became attached to the vehicle, said Gittens.

The fatality is the latest in a three-year trend of increased numbers of Muni vehicle-pedestrian collisions in The City, according to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency data.

Correspondingly, there has been a rise in the total number of fatalities resulting from those collisions, according to the data.

Muni officials point out that two of the fatalities last year were considered suicides.

In addition to pedestrian collisions, there were 140 more Muni-related accidents reported in 2007 than in the previous year when 1,414 were recorded. Accidents, defined by Muni, are all incidents ranging from bumping a mirror to a serious injury. Because of this, Yuen said the numbers are misleading,

The grisly fatality Wednesday night occurred an hour after another collision, in which a Muni light-rail vehicle injured four people at the intersection of Taraval Street and 44th Avenue. Police said that collision was the result of a vehicle running a stop sign.

The L-Taraval then “T-boned” the car, sending two of its occupants to San Francisco General Hospital, according to police, and injuring the driver and a passenger of the Muni vehicle. The driver of the car was cited for driving on a suspended license.

Yuen said Muni officials are instituting safety measures to address the serious issue of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, such as providing verbal, written and broadcast safety tips to Muni operators in a “safety messaging blitz.” Also, Muni plans to install simulators on training buses and light-rail vehicles to better train new and current operators, said Yuen, adding that Muni is launching a multimedia safety campaign targeted to transit customers, pedestrians, bicyclists and employees.

bbegin@examiner.com

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