Redwood City man, 50, identified as latest Caltrain fatality

REDWOOD CITY — Fredrick Opp, 50, died when he attempted to cross the tracks at the downtown Caltrain platform and was struck by a southbound train, officials said Thursday.

Opp stepped off a northbound train at Sequoia Station at 6 p.m., walked to the south edge of the platform and ducked under a lowered crossing arm when he was struck, according to Jonah Weinberg, spokesman for the rail system. Opp’s last known address was at the 800 block ofMain Street, just blocks away from the station, according to voter records.

“The guess is that he thought the gates were down because of the train he was on,” Weinberg. “Whether or not he thought, ‘Oh, this isn’t for real,’ we can only assume.”

Opp’s death is the fourth train-related fatality in Redwood City this year, and the 13th for the Caltrain corridor since January. In February, 58-year-old Bonnie Heitz died at Brewster Avenue; in April, 18-year-old Jose Alvarez died just north of Whipple Avenue; in September, 63-year-old Elias Mecina Vazquez died at the Chestnut Street crossing. All were accidents and not suicides, Weinberg said.

Officials are treating the high incidence of train-related fatalities in Redwood City as an anomaly, although Caltrain launched a new safety program, “Don’t Shortcut Life,” in 2006.

“You can have four people in a building with cancer, but that doesn’t mean the building causes cancer,” Weinberg said. “These deaths were not at the same location, and each one was eminently avoidable if someone had decided to respect the signal.”

While Redwood City officials have suggested locations where additional fencing could be added and would eventually like to elevate the train corridor through town, rail patrons need to keep their own safety in mind, Mayor Barbara Pierce said.

“People have to take some responsibility,” Pierce said. “We need to learn that it’s not worth the risk.”

bwinegarner@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocalTransittransportation

Just Posted

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes sit in a container after being crushed at Smith-Madrone Winery in St. Helena, Calif. on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Courtesy Smith-Madrone Winery)
San Francisco’s ‘Champagne problems’ — Wine industry suffers supply chain woes

‘Everywhere you turn, things that were easy are no longer easy’

Glasses behind the bar at LUNA in the Mission District on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Glassware is just one of the many things restaurants have had trouble keeping in stock as supply chain problems ripple outward. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF restaurants face product shortages and skyrocketing costs

‘The supply chain crisis has impacted us in almost every way imaginable’

A Giants fans hangs his head in disbelief after the Dodgers won the NLDS in a controversial finish to a tight Game 5. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Giants dream season ends at the hands of the Dodgers, 2-1

A masterful game comes down to the bottom of the ninth, and San Francisco came up short

<strong>Workers with Urban Alchemy and the Downtown Streets Team clean at Seventh and Market streets on Oct. 12. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins> </strong>
<ins></ins>
Why is it so hard to keep San Francisco’s streets clean?

Some blame bureaucracy, others say it’s the residents’ fault

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi — seen in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday — touted Congressional Democrats’ infrastructure bill in San Francisco on Thursday. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times)
Pelosi touts infrastructure bill as it nears finish line

Climate change, social safety net among major priorities of Democrats’ 10-year funding measure

Most Read