News


Third person killed by train identified

San Jose man killed at California Avenue station was second in series of Saturday deaths

A man who died on the Caltrain tracks at California Avenue in Palo Alto Saturday (Dec. 3) has been identified by the Santa Clara County Coroner's Office.

San Jose resident Donald Larson, 48, was struck and killed at about 11:10 a.m. by northbound train No. 801, a Baby Bullet express train. His was the second death on Bay Area tracks within a two-hour period Saturday.

Jayne Cox, 27, of Folsom was struck and killed just north of the Menlo Park station at 12:13 p.m. by southbound train No. 428. She was identified by the San Mateo County Coroner's Office on Sunday.

Gary Carter, 47, of Fremont preceded the Peninsula deaths and was killed by Amtrak train number 727 in Fremont, a westbound Capitol Corridor train, around 10:20 a.m., Danelle Hunter, an Amtrak spokeswoman said.

There were 150 passengers on the train going through Palo Alto who were transferred to another train, Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn stated in a press release.

The train that struck Cox had 120 passengers, she said.

There were no injuries to the Amtrak train's crew or the approximately 40 passengers on board, Hunter said.

The train was delayed by about three hours and the passengers were ultimately taken by bus to their destination.

There have been 16 fatalities on the Caltrain right of way this year, Dunn said.

A middle-aged man, Greg Brown of Redwood City, was killed Nov. 26 at the California Avenue station. The highest number of deaths in one year in the Caltrain right of way -- 20 -- occurred in 1995, Dunn said.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Train Neighbor
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 3, 2011 at 4:44 pm

My deepest sympathies to families and friends.

This can be a tough time of year.

May we all be agents spreading grace and kindness to those in need.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 3, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Time to close ALL urban grade crossings.


Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 3, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Unclear to me if they were suicides or accidents.

Honestly tracks are quite well protected (gates, fences etc.) and trains are always using their horn... I did not see what else can be done to prevent accidents.


Like this comment
Posted by
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 3, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Closing ALL urban grade crossings wouldn't have made any difference in today's two deaths.

The Menlo Park collision occurred between Oak Grove and Glenwood avenues and reports indicate the Palo Alto death occurred at the Cal Ave depot. Grade crossings didn't play a role.


Like this comment
Posted by Broken record
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2011 at 10:15 pm

"Time to close ALL urban grade crossings."

Oh, so you want to increase fatalities? Time to think about the consequences of your knee jerk reactions.


1 person likes this
Posted by Midtown Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 3, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Our sincerest sympathies go out to the victims' families. You are in our thoughts and prayers.


Like this comment
Posted by Shaken (not stirred)
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 3, 2011 at 10:43 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 3, 2011 at 11:50 pm

This is nuts!
I lived in 2 big cities in Europe for 2 years. Trains galore. Never heard of so many frequent fatal incidents.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 4, 2011 at 1:33 am

I have business in SF this coming week. Guess driving to Millbrae BART may be more dependable than Caltrain. But last time I tried BART (Sunday afternoon Nov 20), they were single tracking due to an, uh, fatal incident, on the tracks at the 24th and Mission station (similar BART incidents had occurred recently at the Ashby and Colma stations). Sorry that some people have overwhelming problems, but glad that I don't need to commute regularly.

Regarding Europe, I just googled Paris Metro and found this to be daily occurrence.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 4, 2011 at 5:59 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

The conditions along railroads would be unacceptable in any factory. Moving parts must be shielded. BART has NO grade crossings, so the only exposure is at stations. Subways in Moscow have no track access. They have doors at station that match up with train doors.
Think of elevators. Why bother with the expense of doors on elevators when all that is necessary is a line on the floor. If all elevator shaft doors were deleted, how many people would, accidentally or intentionally, step into open elevator shafts?
Broken, tell us about increased fatalities.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 4, 2011 at 8:55 am

The proper elevator analogy would be people getting hit by express elevators. Gravity is a whole other issue, and should probably be outlawed.


Like this comment
Posted by moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2011 at 11:53 am

Editor --

Please consider the significant difference between cause of death and manner of death.


Like this comment
Posted by alumna
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 4, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Please do NOT report on these individual incidents. If you must, report on the final count at the end of the year.


Like this comment
Posted by It's News
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm

This is unfortunate, but the media s correct in reporting it, rather than censuring news. Parents don't need to tell their children of all these deaths or they get the wrong impression. But adults have the right to know, and if they are susceptible to copy-cat behavior, that's their issue.


Like this comment
Posted by mental health
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I agree that the media should report on these incidents that affect a lot of people, just like they report on fatal car crashes on public streets.

I wish, however, that the media would give some publicity to local mental health programs whenever they report on possible suicides.


Like this comment
Posted by old
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 4, 2011 at 5:59 pm

12:13 Saturday - train visible at the intersection just north of the MP station seemingly benignly advancing - is it stopped? Had just commented to a woman that the 801 northbound bullet must have again (one week after the 1st incident) hit someone, and I was about to say I was glad our train was o.k., when someone siad, "Oh shit" and started walking up the platform. I walked up there too eventually. Between the last and 2nd to last car ... the train was, I heard, probably going 30 mph. That's how long it takes to stop. If 79 mph, 1/4 mi behind the stopped train.


Like this comment
Posted by Ella
a resident of Los Altos
on Dec 4, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I was on the northbound train that hit the man in Palo Alto, and it was truly awful. It was about a mile before the California Avenue station. RIP to the victims, and my heart goes out to their loved ones as well as the people driving the train who had to bear witness to such a sad event.


Like this comment
Posted by Broken record
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2011 at 8:53 am

Walter,

what do you think will happen when all those JLS and Gunn students have to ride their bikes on San Antonio to get passed your closures? You have a tendency to throw the baby out with the bath water.


Like this comment
Posted by Brad
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 5, 2011 at 10:54 am

I have often questioned the benefit of CalTrain when I wait to cross Alma; right at the heaviest traffic times, train after train causes unbelieveable backup on crossroads like E. Meadow or Charleston. (One adjustment that could be made is for the lights to not restart their cycle at the end of a train event, but that's another story) But really, when you consider the congestion CalTrain causes in the cities it goes through, all the sad fatalities, and the financial burden of subsidizing CalTrain, I just have to ask "is it really worth it?" Sure, it reduces congestion on 101 to some degree, but it's fair to at least ask the question, is CalTrain really the benefit it's assumed to be?


Like this comment
Posted by Marty
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2011 at 10:56 am

Dear "old, a resident of Menlo Park"

??? I have no idea what you are trying to say in your post. ???

Could you possibly rewrite it so I can understand what you are trying to say?

Than you.


Like this comment
Posted by Saddened
a resident of Los Altos
on Dec 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

Ella - It must have been an awful experience for you too. Our prayers are with you, and for some good to come from the trauma of what you and the others on the trains were forced to endure.

What could the victims had been thinking prior to the collision? I'm still not sure if it was an accident.

It looks like these are all suicides. But newspapers have not released details. If suicide is the case, instead of teens, our area now has a series of emotionally impoverished adults, without hope.

It will take more than physical barriers to stop this. This looks like a widespread emotional problem.

If it's common in Paris, then they too, are emotionally impoverised, albeit a wealthy city by world's standards. So very sad.


Like this comment
Posted by old
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 5, 2011 at 11:20 am

Brad, if I am more specific I think the post will be removed--in fact I am surprised it has not already been removed.


Like this comment
Posted by old
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 5, 2011 at 11:21 am

oops, sorry - Marty, if I am more specific I think the post will be removed--in fact I am surprised it has not already been removed.


Like this comment
Posted by My two cents
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2011 at 11:39 am

Grade separation would be helpful. It would reduce these fatalities (especially if they tunnel or trench and cover). It will also improve crosstown (east/west) street operations by eliminating the increasingly frequent train preepmtion. Traffic Back-ups at Churchill, East Meadow and Charleston/Arastradero have been aggravated by increasing train crossings.

While I am glad to have better train service, a balance needs to be struck here. Perhaps we can take some of the the money that had been earmarked for the fatally flawed High Speed Rail (HSR) project and use it to make Caltrain safer and more efficient. HSR has been so badly mismanaged it is no longer a viable project. The state should cut its losses and drop the project. Then move to spend the money on rail that works. Since they are already pushing cities to intensify density of development they should be investing in making local transportation systems work better.


Like this comment
Posted by galen
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 5, 2011 at 11:49 am

I believe what "old" may be implying is that if someone is hit by the proposed HSR the train will just have to continue because it'll be rear-ended by the train racing close behind.


Like this comment
Posted by old
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 5, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Galen, had not thought of that, but yes... we are talking about the fact that trains take a long time to stop.


Like this comment
Posted by don't get close to a train
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2011 at 1:23 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Marielena
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2011 at 6:05 pm

There should be a fence all along Alma. The last two suicides right before California have been at the same spot where there is no high fence. Just a little one that people can hop. I have asked Cal Train to raise the fence, but I guess they do not want to spend the money, and they just did some patches. How many more people need to die in order for them to raise the fence, and not just patch it?


Like this comment
Posted by Midtown Guy
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 6, 2011 at 9:04 am

Replace CalTrain and HSR with BART (around the bay at last)
and elevated tracks as in East Bay.


Like this comment
Posted by stretch
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 3:06 pm

If these were suicides, they would happen whether or not the fence were raised. People intent on killing themselves climb fences, crawl under - where there's a will, there's a way. Why not go even further and say we can prevent the suicides altogether? Not. We could hang nets from freeway crossings, put 20' fences along the train tracks and offer suicide hotlines. Unfortunately, nothing would change the mind of someone intent on leaving this world.


Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 6, 2011 at 8:10 pm

The truth is, more obstacles will prevent some suicides, not all, but are worth the effort. Also, trains do not cause deaths, people getting in their way does. Also, when someone does this intentionally, he or she is not a victim. Finally, suicides are caused by many things, often depression or mental illness, not trains. Trains do not single people out.


Like this comment
Posted by Saved
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 14, 2011 at 11:44 am

I once considered suicide. The process to obtain affordable mental health care is a nightmare. So many MDs and therapists no longer take insurance because of the affluence in this area. They can see less patients and make more money by accepting cash only. Some of this is also attributable to the insurance companies as they make it EXTREMELY difficult to pay on these claims. The time it takes to submit a claim is abominable. A person in crisis is in no condition to navigate this.

I was lucky. I had help to get insurance to cover part of my claims but it was still very expensive and has put me in a very precarious financial situation. This only compounds the stress of my MH symptoms.

I know the despair that leads to suicide. It is a scary place to be. I am one of the lucky ones. I still battle severe depression. If people with diabetes, CVD, rheumatoid arthritis can easily access care, expensive diagnoses and medication, why is it so difficult to get the necessary treatments for depression?

My deepest sympathy to all the families. The holidays will never be the same.


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

El Camino: Another scheme to increase congestion?
By Douglas Moran | 25 comments | 2,668 views

Salt & Straw Palo Alto to open Nov. 23
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,389 views

Trials of My Grandmother
By Aldis Petriceks | 2 comments | 1,318 views

Lakes and Larders (part 2)
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,055 views

Can we ever improve our schools?
By Diana Diamond | 0 comments | 14 views