Train hits, kills person on tracks

A pedestrian was struck and killed by a southbound Caltrain just north of the Hayward Park Caltrain station behind a San Mateo post office on Monday afternoon, marking the second death on the tracks in a month.

The second fatality on Caltrain tracks this year comes only 21 days after Jose Luis Flores, 17, of Redwood City, was killed by a Caltrain just north of Whipple Avenue in Redwood City on Jan. 7. In 2007, there were eight Caltrain-related deaths, Caltrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg said.

The northbound train struck the person at roughly 3:08 p.m., said Lt. Dave Triolo of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Transit Police, which is contracted by Caltrain and will handle the investigation.

The victim, who officials said was “trespassing,” was standing directly in the middle of the train’s tracks, authorities said. As the train traveled around a corner, it knocked the trespasser an unknown distance down the rail corridor, Triolo said. The train may have been moving at less than its top speed of 79 mph, but was not scheduled to stop at the Hayward Park station, he said.

It was unknown if the victim was committing suicide, officials said. Triolo said there was significant trauma to the body, but would not provide more details.

The San Mateo County Coroner’s Office had not identified the victim’s gender, age or any other information Monday. Triolo said an investigation could take weeks.

Jeff Webb, 43, of San Francisco, was waiting at the Hayward Park station when he saw a woman appear from behind a corner shrouded with bushes and walk onto the tracks.

“I see this person suddenly walk up on the track, stand right in front of the train standing toward it and wave bye-bye with her fingers,” said Webb, one of just two people at the station at the time. “It was pretty obvious to me that it was a suicide.”

The accident occurred just west of Kmart, the South Delaware Street U.S. Post Office and nearby apartments. Auto repair shops and residential neighborhoods were on the other side of the tracks.

“This is precisely the reason we do [safety] outreach — to prevent tragedies like this,” Weinberg said.

The area’s train service was completely shut down for roughly 30 minutes after the incident, Weinberg said. One track opened around 3:45 p.m. and trains were operating full speed on both tracks by 4:45 p.m., around an hour and a half after the death, he said.

Caltrain expected residual delays throughout the evening, but the interruption to the service would have been worse had the death occurred during peak commute hours, Weinberg said.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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