San Carlos man 14th Caltrain fatality this year

REDWOOD CITY — Investigators are still working to determine exactly what happened to a San Carlos man whose body was found on the Caltrain tracks this weekend.

Ronald Raines, 40, was found on the southbound tracks 85 feet north of Whipple Avenue at 1 a.m. Saturday morning. His body was spotted by a train conductor traveling north, according to San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault. Investigators believe he was struck and killed by a Caltrain at approximately 11 p.m. Friday night, according to Jonah Weinberg, spokesman for the San Mateo County Transit District.

“There were no witnesses,” Weinberg said, although he said Caltrain officials are certain that Raines was hit by a train. It is unknown whether the man’s death was accidental or the result of suicide.

Raines died of multiple blunt injuries, and a train traveling on the southbound tracks shortly before his body was found showed evidence of an accident, according to Foucrault.

Nobody answered the phone at Raines’ San Carlos apartment Monday afternoon. Voting records show that he turned 40 on Oct. 2.

Raines’ death is the 14th Caltrain-related death in 2006, and the fifth in Redwood City this year.

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; in October, Frederick Opp died crossing the train platform at Sequoia Station.

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. Shortly after Opp’s death, the agency announced plans to spend $9 million to replace vehicle and pedestrian crossing arms to prevent people from getting onto the tracks when a train is approaching.

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