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Woman killed by Caltrain is identified

Original post made on Jan 2, 2009

The woman killed by a Caltrain in Mountain View Wednesday evening has been identified by the Santa Clara County Coroner's office as Allison Marie Springfield, 19, of Sunnyvale.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 1, 2009, 10:23 AM

Comments (28)

Posted by YouShouldKnow, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 2, 2009 at 1:48 pm

I witnessed a suicide attempt at Churchill and Alma earlier this year. It was also a young woman. She jumped out of the way of a Southbound train at literally the last moment. She was actually almost hit, she cleared by a split second. I couldn't believe my eyes! As soon as the train cleared, she came right back on to the tracks, circling, staring North. Exiting the tracks, entering again. She was clutching a cell phone or something in her hand I think. I thought maybe she was trying to see when the next train was coming by. Maybe she had a friend on it and was running late to meet them at Cal Ave or University. I also wondered, that was just too close, was she trying to kill herself? The light changed and I had to move, but I circled back to see if what I suspected was true. I was farther back this time but could see her once again standing on the tracks, looking Northbound. At one point, she turned, saw me staring and stared back. As soon as our eyes met I thought, 'this girl is trying to commit suicide'. I was certain. Don't know how, but I was. Something in her eyes. Light changed and I circled again. This time waiting on a side street until I could be first at the light. My thought was to really assess what I was seeing and subsequently either attempt contact with her or call the police. I had my phone open and their number on the screen. She had seen me earlier at the first light, which was long; staring at her. She saw me this time too. Our eyes met and I opened my mouth to call out to her. As the 'hey are you ok' started to roll off my tongue, she kind of rolled her eyes, flipped her hair and stalked away. Such a typical teen move, I felt relieved. She went up the bike path toward T&C. The light changed and I rolled slowly North keeping pace with her until I could see her no more. I also felt a bit foolish, figured it was just a teen caught up in some drama. I had three family members in three ICU's in three different hospitals that day, I was taking an hour out to get centered, figured it was my stress level making me automatically go to the worst case scenario...

Two days later I picked up a paper while at the bank and read 'young woman hit by train identified...' I read the article and saw by the date, time, race, age and sex of the victim it was the female I saw. She walked away from Churchill alright, went to the rarely used Stanford stop and literally caught the very next train after her dry run. I felt sick to my stomach. I still do sometimes, can still see her eyes...I felt awful I didn't call the cops (still do) but really, what would have happened? The way it all transpired it would have had to been a perfect timing thing, and what do you tell a dispatcher? 'A girl was circling on the tracks, I think she may want to harm herself'. 'What makes you think that' 'oh I dunno, just a feeling, I saw something in her eyes'. Combine that with my stress and the fact those tracks are at Paly and there are often young people milling about the tracks and well, it just all felt a bit dramatic. Hind sight is always a great educator. If there is a next time I'll call the cops no matter how stupid I feel. I feel so bad for this young woman and her family. For the Engineer. For anyone else who had to witness this tragedy. The only consolation I have is that at least because of me she left the Churchill crossing, it was daylight and a lot of people could have seen it happen and been traumatized. I read of a young girl in the back of her dads car who witnessed a similar event, she is still affected by it!

I wish that people would stop and think about what they are doing before resorting to such extreme measures. There IS help out there, even sliding scale and free, and if you can't get past thinking about yourself, try to think about how many others are affected by your actions, family, friends, rail workers, emergency personnel and random strangers at the right place, wrong time. It winds up hurting more than YOU! GET HELP!

Posted by Dave, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 2, 2009 at 2:52 pm

I ride my bike along that bike path for work, the next day I was able to see the compassion of the Caltrain staff assist her Mom in laying flowers at the spot. FYI.

Also witnessed a while back @ C-hill an idiot in a truck try to out run the tray towards el-c, the crossing gate came down between his cab & trailer pinning him on the trax, and he had a passenger! they broke the gate and missed getting killed by a foot, as the train was s-bond it was not at full speed and stopped about 100 yds from c-hill. the truck left, but came back to face the cops- who I called. And when it happened, the gate was left on the n-bound trax with a train pulling out of calif so I moved it out of the way. ave. All Caltrain staff was on the radio,all trains were slow-tracked, and the response was great.

Posted by Donald, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 2, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Yes, please do call the police if you see someone trespassing near the train tracks. Hopefully, they find the person and get them the metal health care that they need.

Posted by crescent park, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 2, 2009 at 9:32 pm

to YouShouldKnow and other comments -

Thank for your story. What a traumatic and sad experience. The description of "rolling her eyes, like a typical teenager'' really resonated. It helps to know that so many of our neighbhors are paying attention, and care. You make Palo Alto a better place, despite such tragedies.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2009 at 11:07 am

Thank you for your story on the teen. I wish you would have got involved and I hope others read it and do if they are ever in a situation where a human being is considering taking their own life.

Posted by John the Man, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2009 at 11:24 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by YouShouldKnow, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 3, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Thank you Crescent Park and parent. I did try to get involved, I circled three times and on the last attempted to make contact. Most people would have gone right on by or not even noticed. Hell, do you think I was the only person at that intersection that day? There were plenty of cars, eyes. Mine were the only ones who noticed, apparently. You have to realize she wasn't on any 'tresspass' part of the tracks, she was at the crossing where I have witnessed hundreds of kids over 34 years milling about waiting for the light to change.

What's more, with my both of my parents, and my aunt gravely ill (two out of the three wound up passing away) I just wasn't feeling on solid ground with my judgement. I just could not come up with a credible way to explain my 'feeling' to the police dispatch. She wasn't tresspassing on that location. Add to that her very normal teenage-like response (found out later though she looked like a young teen she was actually in her 20's), I thought I was reading something more into her actions. The only real consolation I have is that more people didn't witness her final event. That the railroad wasn't at fault, all the proper safety guards, bells etc. were working just fine, and that I do understand, to a point, that anyone bound and determined to do themselves harm, will do it. If not then, then at some other time. It's all so clear now...not so much at the time.

Posted by Alan, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 4, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Why not pass an ordinance that makes it illegal to trespass along the railway tracks. That way someone wouldn't need to guess someone's intentions when deciding whether to call 9-1-1.

Posted by Best Friend, a resident of Portola Valley
on Jan 4, 2009 at 8:12 pm

None of you knew what she was going through. Although I obviously don't support her decision, don't you dare call her selfish.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community
on Jan 4, 2009 at 10:51 pm

I actually knew Allison, she was a funny and astounding girl. I was deeply crushed when my sister called me and told me what had happened to her.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 5, 2009 at 2:26 am

As I read this all I can remember is sitting and laughing on the blue bench out in front of our school. Those are the memories she should be remembered by.

Posted by a freind from far, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 5, 2009 at 1:42 pm

i jus wana say i got the pleasure of meeting allison and she was a fun energetic girl and crazy lol for anyone who knew her knows what i am talking about. She was a best freind to my best freind but we hung out a few times and left eachother myspace messages n comments and stuff like that. Even tho she had her faults (which we all do) she was a sweet girl and meant well. I just feel she was a lonely person who was out of control and needed some love in her life, she was just to much out there and being to wild and crazy. I mean what was so bad that she had to resort to this? i mean to stand on a train track jus counting down the seconds till you lay to rest, i mean what was so bad allison? you culda came to a freind or even me to talk. I mean i may not have been your best freind but i was a friend who woulda listened ya kno?
I just feel so bad for her even tho i wasnt super close to her shes still a human being who had feelings, who hurt, and who cried and for that i feel sad. It always sucks to see someone you kno go down, she had potential too. I just remebeer hanging out with her and her making us laugh all the time, and chillen in the hotel room with her having good times with our freinds. I kno god will forgive her for what she did, kno one deserves to die but maybe she is in a better place now, maybe god is taking care of her now cus when she was here she probably was going through so much. So maybe now shes in peace and now she can just sleep. Now theres no more pain. Allison you will be missed by family, freinds, and anyone who got the chance to meet you. I hope your in a better place now and i hope you lay in peace. YOU WILL BE MISSED!!!! GOD BLESS.

Posted by Mandy, a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Allison Marie Springfield was one of my dear friends and I can't express the pain I am feeling from her death. It hurts me deeply to see people on here making judgements about her. Everyone has their problems and for any of you to invalidate her feelings is wrong. I am looking for my friend's obituary on the internet in hopes of finding where her funeral is being held, and I stumble upon a few ignorant people who feel they need to speak badly about someone who has passed? I think it's just terrible and I wish you would just please think about what you are saying and who it may hurt before you say it.

Posted by A, a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2009 at 5:08 pm

I was really good friends with Allison throughout most of high school, and even afterwards - we'd hang out from time to time. No matter how much time went by, though, it would never be awkward, always lots of laughs. She had a great personality, and countless admirable qualities. She never let anyone's negative commments get to her. She always stood up for herself and that's something I'm still not able to do 100% of the time. It's hard to think that she's really gone, because I can still remember us hanging out so vividly. I'll miss you, Allison.

Posted by A, a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2009 at 5:10 pm

PS - Anyone who has obituary/funeral service info: Please a link here. Greatly appreciated.

Posted by mike, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 5, 2009 at 8:47 pm

i was one of allisons close friends. i have been in contact with her family and there is no set date for a funeral/service yet but i will keep you updated.

Posted by Anon, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Only one person made a judgement, and as you can see, that post was removed. I'm sorry for your loss.

Posted by Anon, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2009 at 1:05 pm

Oh, and it's not illegal to stand at the crossings, such as as Churchill and Alma. Like with the first girl. It's only illegal (I think) to walk along the tracks where there is no crossing. Yesterday I noticed a nice new fence along the tracks from San Antonio to at least, E. Charleston. Of course, that won't keep out anyone who is determined, but at least it will remove some of the guesswork.

Posted by A, a resident of another community
on Jan 6, 2009 at 1:19 pm


Thanks a lot. If there is a facebook group or something that's been created please share the link to that too... thank you sir.

Posted by Ari, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 7, 2009 at 12:24 am

I'm so sad that Allison died like this. Was life so bad that you had to kill yourself. I just hope people see that killing yourself doesn't prove anything. I've made so many mistakes, but once you kill yourself, you can take it back. I know how it feels to hate life, feel lonely, and want to end it all. I guess what I take from this is not to worry about petty things. Live well, take care of yourself, and spend time with the people who truly care about you. Remember there is always tomorrow. I regret not seeing her for such a long time. Though I remember that we always clashed heads. I mean that sometimes we did not get along. Sometimes there are relationships where people can't stand each other; a dad and son that just hate each other. At the same time they love each other. That was me and Allison. I'm sure a lot people feel the same way. Allison had a big personality! I would have not changed a thing. Allison was not afraid to say her opinion. That was the special thing about her. I know she's up there right now having a good laugh about all the good memories and the silly drama that kids have. Everyone who was close to Allison, I'll see you at the memorial. You will be missed.

Posted by Alyssa Paris, a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 7, 2009 at 1:48 am

Usually when you hear about like this, you think to yourself wow thats really sad. But when it turns out to be one of your befriends from high school it goes way beyond that.

Anyone who has something negative to say should not even bother putting their two cents in. The opinion/comment you are leaving is only based on what the article says. You do not know everything that occurred on this incident.

I am so upset that I didn't talk with her these past few months. I have many fond memories with Allison. She was defiantly the loudest, craziest and fun friend out of everyone. It is so unbelievably tragic it had to end like this.

You will be missed by many Allison, I love u!

PS Happy Birthday.....I still have my first pink "candy"

Her memorial will be on the Saturday January 17 in Belmont

Heres more info:

Web Link

Posted by YouShouldKnow, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 7, 2009 at 1:06 pm

I sincerely hope anyone reading this blog who is contemplating a similar act can see the genuine pain they will cause others by committing such an extreme act. Yes, as people grow up they become more busy and wrapped up in their own lives, but, and I know I speak for most people, if a person in pain reaches out, people WILL stop and listen. If you can't bring yourself to confide in friends or family, there is a 24 hour Suicide AND Crisis help line. They're there, and they'll listen!

Posted by Chris Freckman, a resident of another community
on Jan 8, 2009 at 2:04 pm

This girl was the love of my life. My angel, my allison. This day was going to be her 20th b-day. im sorry that i wasn't there to try an talk to you. every day id tell her how beautiful she was and how perfect she was to me. she talked about how we would spend forever together and now what do i do. I just wanna see her 1 more time to tell her everything i never got to say. everyone should always tell the person they love the most they love them that much. cause i said it too her a lot, and now ill never get the pleasure of saying it to her again. i miss you soooooo much. plz come back

Posted by Lucille, a resident of another community
on Jan 10, 2009 at 12:28 am

The memorial service for Allison will be at the Neptune Society, 1645 El Camino in Belmont on Saturday, January 17 at 11:00 a.m.

My sincere sympathy to Allison's family. May God give comfort and peace to her family.

Posted by Caltrain commuter, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 12, 2009 at 2:50 pm

I was on the first car of the train that struck Allison on New Years eve. I just wanted to write and say my prayers went out to the stranger and her family at the time of the incident. I'm saddened that she needed to end her life this way, but I hope that she is finally resting in peace. My condolences to her family and friends.

Posted by ?, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jan 15, 2009 at 8:08 pm

I was an aquaintance of allison but everytime we hung out we always bonded. i was wondering.. did she kill herself? ive heard a couple of stories of what actually happened and im wondering which is true?

Posted by YouShouldKnow, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 23, 2009 at 1:02 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by never again, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 3, 2009 at 8:55 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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