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Fatal collision with pickup truck stalls Caltrain

Original post made on Oct 30, 2008

Caltrain service resumed mid-morning today following a crash between a pickup truck and a train in San Mateo that left a man dead and halted trains for hours, a company spokeswoman said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, October 30, 2008, 8:56 AM

Comments (17)

Posted by Kirsten, a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 30, 2008 at 10:46 am

I don't understand why the train continued traveling for 4 blocks before it stopped. These incidents seem like they are occuring more and more frequently. What is going on?

Posted by Robert, a resident of Los Altos
on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:01 am

Think of the speed of the train, its momentum and how light the truck is, in comparison. Unfortunately, it appears that this individual was suicidal, and there's nothing you can do to stop that kind of incident.

Posted by Greg K, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:04 am

Trains are big and heavy and cannot stop on a dime. If a train is coming, you need to get out of the way.

I do think the cities really need to improve the train crossings, though. For example, move the gates farther away from the train tracks and make the signal lights bigger and more visible. In many cases, the signal lights are near turns, so you don't see them until you are right next to the train tracks.

Posted by T, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:06 am

Kirsten, it takes the train a while to stop...I figure four blocks is excessive, but it may be that the engineer didn't want to slam on the brakes, throwing folks inside the train about...many may have been standing if it was close to a stop.

I really really really hate it when folks go around the arms. You don't even have to be a little smart to know what this means. Arms are down. Lights are flashing. Bells are ringing and the train (horn blowing) is roaring toward you. Just wait thirty damn second for it to go by!

Posted by Lisa, a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:07 am

It's hard to stop a train going 60+ mph. Four blocks really isn't that far.

Posted by Saddened, a resident of Ventura
on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:09 am

you don't understand why the train continued traveling for 4 blocks before it stopped?

the laws of physics, Kirsten.

people do not understand mass*acceleration. trains approach faster than you think, and they CANNOT stop on a dime. (imagine being in the cab of a train about to kill someone and not able to do a damn thing about it.)

those who suicide by train should think of others before choosing this way.

unfortunately, I think that's what most of these incidents are. better social services, not
crossing gates, are what's needed.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:14 am

There is no reason as yet to think that this individual was suicidal. But, he did stop on a crossing. There are big signs that tell drivers never to stop on crossings for any reason, but people do. At the crossings in Palo Alto where there are traffic lights to cross Alma, there is often someone stopping on the crossings because the lights are red. The "know" that if a train approaches they will get a green light when the gates come down, so they feel safe. But, if they stall, or the car in front stalls, or if something happens in the intersection to stop the traffic, then this is a very dangerous practice.

I have no idea if this happened in this accident, but cars must never ever stop on the tracks for any reason - just in case.

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:26 am

The signal arms, size, distance, etc. are governed by the Public Utilities Commission in conformance with national standards. The train operator installs and maintains them, and cities can't do anything to change them. There is nothing wrong with the warning systems. The problem is with the people who ignore them.

Posted by Kirsten, a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:31 am

I ride the train every day. I know what it takes to stop. I have been in numerous accidents. Thanks.

Posted by Clem, a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Vote yes on 1A and this won't happen anymore.

Posted by Unclear, a resident of Stanford
on Oct 30, 2008 at 1:20 pm

Who said "a man in his 50's" was suicidal or went around "the arms"? Whatever the circumstances were, it is an unfortunate incident that cost someone their life. Yes, many people were inconvenienced because of the accident but jumping to conclusions before the facts are revealed is a waste of time. It does happen often and people continue to be rude and self-righteous. With the prospect of high speed rail coming to the Bay Area there may not be street crossings in the future, but until then this will continue to happen regardless if it is intentional or accidental. Public transit is not always going to be more convenient than traveling by car, truck or motorcycle. Accidents happen daily on our roadways which delay more people than those of us who commute on Caltrain.

Posted by Sadly, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2008 at 1:29 pm

I say it was a suicide and with times like these, we may be in for more. Sadly, I think I heard somewhere that suicides are up too.
Hug your loved ones.

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 30, 2008 at 4:19 pm

Who cares suicide Big Heavy TRAIN a person is lost who
may have grieving loved ones? may be a child missing
a Father. To the Family :
may you find comfort at this time
Prayers are with you sadly

Posted by Tunnel the Trains, a resident of Meadow Park
on Oct 30, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Well, if these trains were underground we wouldn't be having any more "fatal collisions" anymore, now would we?

Posted by Greg K, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 30, 2008 at 5:22 pm

I would vote for a bond measure and ballot proposition to put Caltrain underground or at least create grade separations at all intersections. That is much more interesting to me than BART or HSR.

Posted by grade crossings are for the country, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 30, 2008 at 7:54 pm

I use Caltrain service daily and appreciate it. Nevertheless, the reality is that Caltrain is cutting a swath of destruction down the Peninsula. Grade separations are imperative. Meanwhile, for my own preservation, I plan ahead and use a tunnel. Not always convenient, but safe.

Posted by Parawest, a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2008 at 9:10 pm

My deepest sympathy to the family. It saddens me for whatever reason this happened to the person [a human being].
I take the train and was stranded that morning, but in comparison to this man's life ending ---that was nothing.

My heart-felt sympathy to all of his loved ones.

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