Teen’s friends call for Caltrain fence

Family and friends of a Burlingame teen killed by a train gathered Tuesday to remember him and urge Caltrain to install more fencing and barriers along the rail corridor.

Burlingame Intermediate School student Fatih Kuc, 13, died April 18 after being struck by a train south of the Broadway train station. About 75 people attended Tuesday’s event, organized by the Kurdish-American Cultural Center.

“We want Caltrain to build fences so that we can stop digging graves,” said John Akkaya, president of the cultural center and a Kuc family friend. Fatih’s death was the seventh on the train tracks in 2006, one of three deemed accidental.

Fatih’s uncle, Metin Kuc, remembered the boy as a “wonderful kid” with a passion for soccer and singing Turkish songs. Fatih’s father, Ali, came to America from Turkey 20 years ago and raised the money to bring his wife, son and two daughters here in 1997.

“I don’t know how we’re going to recover from this,” Kuc said. “We want to make sure he’s the last to die on these train tracks.”

Kuc read a letter from Fatih’s sister, Selma, in which she pledged to carry out all the dreams she and her brother had planned when he was alive. “You are my hero,” she wrote.

Mayor Cathy Baylock attended, in part because her son was one of Fatih’s classmates. “It’s devastating,” she said of the death. “So many kids were touched by this [accident], they’re never going to forget it. If there’s any silver lining, this has taught them a lesson.”

Baylock is organizing a meeting May 11 with the Burlingame Traffic Safety Parking Commission to discuss increased safety along the rail corridor, which Caltrain officials have been invited to attend.

Caltrain officials Monday announced a new safety campaign, “Don’t Shortcut Life,” aimed at making sure locals are aware of rail-related dangers, according to spokesman Jonah Weinberg. During the campaign, Caltrain will work with local schools to teach students about train safety, and will work with Peninsula city officials to identify places where pedestrians frequently take shortcuts across the tracks.

“You should always assume a train is coming, even if you can’t see it,” Weinberg said. Because of their weight, it takes most of the rail service’s trains one-fourth to one-half mile to stop completely. “Our engineers do slam on the brakes, but it’s almost wishful thinking.”

bwinegarner@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocalTransittransportation

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