Sixth death on tracks in 2008 is woman, 63

A 63-year-old woman lay down on the railroad tracks before she was struck and killed in Atherton on Sunday, the third time in as many weeks that the transit agency’s trains have fatally struck a pedestrian.

Train No. 442’s conductor saw an unknown object on the tracks one-fifth of a mile north of the Atherton station at 7:05 p.m., Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn said. The conductor attempted an emergency stop, Dunn said, but was unable to halt the train before it killed the woman, identified Monday as Zenith Freedman.

Freedman did not have a verified city of residence that could be located Monday, San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said.

The death marks the sixth time a pedestrian has been struck and killed by a Caltrain this year after seven were killed all of last year. The highest number of fatal incidents in a calendar year is 17, which occurred in 2006.

Freedman’s death also marks the third Caltrain fatality in the last three weeks. Three of the deaths this year had already been ruled suicides by the Coroner’s Office. The causes of death in the other three accidents were undetermined, Dunn said.

The southbound train had been scheduled to stop at the Atherton station before hitting Freedman. The northbound track was reopened at 7:40 p.m. and both sides of the rail were available for use by 9 p.m.

A Caltrain struck and killed Menlo Park resident Stephen Lehane, 66, April 7 in Menlo Park in what the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office ruled a suicide.

Another Caltrain fatally struck Anthony Rea, 15, of South San Francisco, at the north end of San Bruno station on April 19 when the El Camino High School freshman skateboarded around a lowered crossing gate while wearing headphones.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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