No injuries after train hits car near Castro Street

Woman arrested for DUI apparently turned car onto tracks

A Caltrain passenger train hit a car near downtown Mountain View early Friday morning (Feb. 18), police said.

No one was injured, but a young woman -- the owner of the truck -- was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to Mountain View police spokeswoman Liz Wylie. Wylie said the woman had a .20 blood alcohol level, which is more than twice the legal limit.

The woman, 21-year-old Kari Olson of Palo Alto, had been drinking in downtown Mountain View before she accidentally turned onto the Caltrain tracks at the Castro Street crossing at about 1 a.m., Wylie said.

Wylie said that the woman told the responding officer she had been confused at the intersection of Castro and Central Expressway, and while looking for Highway 101 turned onto the tracks.

An off-duty officer, just leaving the police station, turned onto Evelyn Avenue and saw the car between the two sets of railroad tracks, Wylie said. The driver was standing next to the vehicle, which she had driven about 100 yards from Castro.

The officer's report said that the car was parked perpendicular to the tracks, indicating that she had perhaps tried to turn the vehicle around, Wylie said. The officer instructed the woman to move away from the car and to safety, which she did.

The officer attempted to stop any inbound trains, but it was too late, Wylie said. A minute or so later, an eastbound train came down the tracks and clipped the front of the car.

Amtrak engineers and San Mateo County Sheriff's deputies responded to assess the damage and take care of the accident portion of the case, which happened within their jurisdiction, Wylie explained. However, Mountain View police handled the DUI case.

Olson was arrested and later released to a sober driver who came to retrieve her from the police station.

The tracks were closed for 3 to 4 hours.

— Nick Veronin

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Like this comment
Posted by DZ
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Feb 22, 2011 at 9:16 am

The train intersection is a dangerous place even for people who are not drunk.
BTW, if the girl was killed, it would be just another suicide. Caltrain can always get away with it by finding it was other people's fault.

Like this comment
Posted by Bernard G.
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 22, 2011 at 9:26 am

Actually DZ, if you're drunk, drive down the tracks, and get hit by a train, it's pretty much your fault.

Grade seperations are the only way to prevent something like this.

Like this comment
Posted by jupiterk
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 22, 2011 at 9:28 am

"Olson was arrested and later released to a sober driver who came to retrieve her from the police station".

I can't believe this. Released to a sober driver? This is very apparent that this would never happen to person of color (african-american, latino or even an Asian). I guess she must have been a cute looking woman that the cop realized he had to be extra nice to her to be so kind. I guess she won't be even charged for this and perhaps can go drinking again without being caught.

Like this comment
Posted by yeahsrsly
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 22, 2011 at 9:37 am

Gotta agree with most, this was pretty ridiculous and they shouldn't have let her go so easily. I really hope she is held responsible for the damages to the Caltrain (it's already about to go bankrupt) and have a little more done to her than a slap on the wrist.

That intersection isn't THAT confusing. After all she thought she was getting on 101 ... 101! She must have been drunk off her arse.

Like this comment
Posted by good thing
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 22, 2011 at 10:00 am

Good think she crashed without hurting anyone before she tried to drive drunk all the way home (or wherever she was going).

Like this comment
Posted by Driver
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 22, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I drive the Rengstorff and Castro Caltrain crossings as well as Mary in Sunnyvale. All of these are very confusing, particularly if you are unfamiliar with them, particularly in the dark, and particularly in heavy rain (which may have been the case on Friday a.m.) Yes, the driver sounds drunk, which of course does not excuse her, but nonetheless these crossings are confusing to those that do not know them and in bad conditions.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Why did she get off so easily re her release? I can understand if she was drunk in public, not operating a vehicle. Doesn't sound good, unless it's a practice used on all those arrested for DUIs. She could've killed people, so I hope she pays - literally - w/the mandatory fines, "education" & losing her license. Loser! Staying safe driving around Sili Valley is hard enough w/out dealing w/drunks.

Like this comment
Posted by grumpy old man
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Why does the article list

Why does the article list San Mateo County Sheriff as a responder?
Last time I checked Mt. View was well within Santa Clara County

Like this comment
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2011 at 10:50 am

San Mateo County Sheriff's department has for years provided police services for both SamTrans and Caltrain. Their "Transit Police" division is kind of a department within a department and so they have some officers and vehicles dedicated to patrolling and responding to incidents the entire 77-mile length of the Caltrain line from Gilroy to San Francisco. Since they are necessarily spread pretty thin, local police are often the first to be dispatched to and/or arrive at incidents involving Caltrain, the SMCo. Sheriff's Dept. Transit Police division have jurisdiction and are responsible for the follow-up reports and investigations, as needed.

Like this comment
Posted by mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm

she was let off because she was white. a black girl would be in jail and allowed a phone call. a black boy would have been cuffed, man-handled, hauled away and his folks would have been lucky to find out within 2 days which jail he was in.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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