News


Woman dies after being struck by train in Palo Alto

Woman identified as 2014 graduate of Gunn High School

A 19-year-old woman who was struck by a train Friday afternoon near downtown Palo Alto has died, Caltrain confirmed. She was identified by the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner as Sarah Marie Longyear.

She was a 2014 graduate of Gunn High School, according to a message Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Max McGee sent to staff and parents Saturday.

Longyear sustained significant injuries after she was hit by a northbound train near Palo Alto Avenue, according to Caltrain. She was transported, alive, to Stanford Hospital but died there, according to Caltrain spokesperson Jayme Ackemann. The coroner's office on Tuesday determined that she died by suicide.

Longyear had struggled with "significant" depression, according to her family.

"Many more people than we know are dealing with mental health issues, and suicides are far too common," they wrote in her obituary. "We urge everyone to be mindful of their loved ones and talk about mental health and suicide. If you feel a loved one may be considering suicide, please ask them."

The Friday incident occurred at about 3 p.m., near the Transit Center in downtown Palo Alto.

Trains were stopped in both directions while officers from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office investigated the incident.

Ackemann said northbound train #155 returned to the downtown station, where passengers got off and the boarded the next northbound train.

Shortly after the incident, Alma Street was closed to traffic at Hawthorne Avenue and at Alma and El Camino Real. Northbound traffic was diverted to Hawthorne. Alma reopened in both directions just after 4 p.m.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority provided a bus service for passengers between the Menlo Park, Palo Alto and California Avenue stations.

Grief counselors, mental-health therapists and psychologists will be available to support students and teachers at Gunn and throughout the school district on Monday and throughout the week, McGee wrote in his message to the school community.

"I also would like to stress that it is imperative for all of us to be vigilant and keep a close eye on our children and to encourage them to look after one another," he wrote.

-----

Any person who is feeling depressed, troubled or suicidal is urged to call 1-800-784-2433 to speak with a crisis counselor. People in Santa Clara County can also call 1-855-278-4204.

Links below provide resources where one can receive help and safety information:

How to help those in crisis

Suicide prevention

Safety and security

Pedestrian Safety tips

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Comments

52 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 22, 2016 at 6:27 pm

Thank you for including suicide prevention information with these news reports. Any little bit to deter copycats is helpful.


8 people like this
Posted by Not Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2016 at 6:32 pm

Not Me is a registered user.

I think I saw the aftermath: no train, but police and sheriff's cars, transit police, dozens of flares, and the intersection closed for hours.

That was at 11:00 this morning


38 people like this
Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 22, 2016 at 9:23 pm

[Post removed.]


35 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 22, 2016 at 10:31 pm

[Post removed.]


28 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 22, 2016 at 10:58 pm

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by Saddened
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2016 at 11:15 pm

I'm so sorry you had to witness that, Paul, and also sorry for the woman who was struck. I hope she survives.


6 people like this
Posted by casey
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2016 at 1:06 pm

casey is a registered user.

@Not Me. The incident occurred in the afternoon. So the flares in the morning were unrelated. The Charleston intersection was closed that morning as well with flares and police. Was worried when I saw that.


9 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Parent is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


46 people like this
Posted by David Cohen
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2016 at 2:34 pm

David Cohen is a registered user.

My condolences to all affected by this distressing and profoundly sad tragedy.

[Portion removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


67 people like this
Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2016 at 3:50 pm

Marc Vincenti is a registered user.

Saturday, April 23

To those who were close to Ms. Longyear--please accept my condolences for your loss.

For the train engineer, the police, the medical staff at the hospital, and our newspaper reporters this is also a painful thing to shoulder and endure.

Many of our city's students will be stricken, too, to learn that another of their cohort is gone. And our city's worried parents--to learn of this loss of a daughter.

So, too, for the school district teachers who may have worked over the years with Ms. Longyear, and cherished her toward adulthood--you're in my thoughts.

Bless those who are in grief. I'm sorry this whole community is suffering under another such blow.

Sincerely,
Marc Vincenti
Gunn English Dept. (1995-2010)


52 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 23, 2016 at 5:25 pm

Sarah1000 is a registered user.

My heart is broken for Sarah's family, friends and for our community. Sending all of you love and strength.


51 people like this
Posted by Danielle Laursen
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 23, 2016 at 6:31 pm

Danielle Laursen is a registered user.

Sending peace and comfort to Sarah's family, friends and our community.


12 people like this
Posted by SEA_SEELAM REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 23, 2016 at 9:11 pm

SEA_SEELAM REDDY is a registered user.

Very sorry to hear the loss.

My prayers.



Respectfully


67 people like this
Posted by Bobbie Wood
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 24, 2016 at 11:56 am

Bobbie Wood is a registered user.

I am so sorry to hear of this tragic loss. It breaks my heart.

To any young person reading this: No matter how much pain you feel now, you have a beautiful, long life ahead of you. I considered this option when I was your age. I didn't take that path and couldn't be more grateful. Life can be incredibly hard and painful, but don't give up on it. There are people who love you, even strangers you haven't met yet. Please reach out. We're here for you. Help is close-by. People care about you.


25 people like this
Posted by A Student
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 24, 2016 at 12:23 pm

A Student is a registered user.

This is extremely heartbreaking, since her father had been teaching me the last few months.


51 people like this
Posted by Thoughtful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Thoughtful is a registered user.

I am sorry for the agony of the close ones left behind.

And yet--the regularity with which this now seeming ritual occurs-reminds me of the short science fiction story by Ursula Leguin, Those Who Walk Away From Omelas. In her story, the residents of the perfect town in which they live come yearly to view of misery of the scapegoat they created.

Each of us needs to look more deeply into ourselves and our participation in the community system in which we live wherein young people sacrifice themselves in full view of our town.

I believe compassion in every moment must be embraced rather than the narrative held in common of success and money as the epitome of a worthwhile life.




10 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 25, 2016 at 11:55 am

Palo Alto native is a registered user.

Sending our heartfelt condolences to the family and to the community.

Respectfully,
Gunn alumni and parent of two Gunn graduates


21 people like this
Posted by Doc.naka
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 25, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Doc.naka is a registered user.

First of all, my condolences to the family. Very tragic and something that NO family should have to go through.
This really needs to stop. Gunn may be a fabulous high school academically but as the parent of a Gunn student, I can tell you that a lot of stress is place on the students. I believe that it starts at home with the parents but the school can do a much better job accommodating students and their needs. For example, my son plays baseball which takes up 2.5 hours, six days a week. He leaves his Geometry H class on Tuesdays and Thursdays which due to his block schedule means he will miss 90 % of his Geom H lectures for the quarter.
This is just one example as there are numerous other problems. This is not just about one family but the entire community.


5 people like this
Posted by ParentTeacherMentor
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2016 at 8:10 pm

ParentTeacherMentor is a registered user.

Another resource for those in crisis situations including depression/suicide is a text service: Web Link for more info. People in crisis can start a conversation by typing "START" to 741741.


2 people like this
Posted by ParentTeacherMentor
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2016 at 8:13 pm

ParentTeacherMentor is a registered user.

Anyone interested in joining me on this?
Web Link
It is an overnight walk around SF for suicide prevention/awareness. This is my fundraising page: Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by XPAUSDMom
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 25, 2016 at 10:38 pm

XPAUSDMom is a registered user.

Another resource is NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

Join me for the NAMIWalk Silicon Valley Sept 17 in spirit, in person, or in contribution: Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Some Thoughts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2016 at 12:45 am

Some Thoughts is a registered user.

@ParentTeacherMentor
Anyone interested in joining me on this?
Web Link
It is an overnight walk around SF for suicide prevention/awareness. This is my fundraising page: Web Link

Absolutely! Just signed up for it, and signed up for SF Greater Bay Area Team. There will be a handful of people from this area walking it, and you and anyone else, please join us.

So sorry to read about the loss of this young woman. Condolences to her family and friends.


3 people like this
Posted by jet pilot
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 26, 2016 at 7:30 am

jet pilot is a registered user.

This is a terrible tragedy. Prayers for this family that they may find peace and healing.


19 people like this
Posted by Thoughtful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2016 at 8:12 am

Thoughtful is a registered user.

I believe we as a society are being called to look more deeply into the apparent values.

Concurrently with the timing of the Palo Alto suicide cluster, developers and real estate agents promoted the dramatic rise in home and office prices. Meanwhile, those with simpler ways including service to others were run out of town. Traffic jams sprang up during rush hours to less expensive towns such as Modesto.

Of course, the giants of technology also moved in during the same time period and contributed not only to rising prices-but also to the parental pressures for children to excel in order to maintain a mainstream place as adults. Perhaps fear for their children in the face of the takeover contributed to the pressures placed on students and subsequent overwhelming stress.

Despite obscene wealth, technology companies made only token efforts to mediate their deleterious impacts of what had been a charming community with formerly adequate housing.

While correlation does not imply causation--nevertheless connections exist between all events. Deeper examination of the coming of the technology giants and the rise of suicides along with the myriad other changing concurrent factors needs more serious consideration.


2 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 26, 2016 at 8:27 am

Paly Parent is a registered user.

Here's another article about her: Web Link


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

Salt & Straw Palo Alto to open Nov. 23
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 3,745 views

Trials of My Grandmother
By Aldis Petriceks | 2 comments | 1,569 views

Lakes and Larders (part 2)
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,300 views

Can we ever improve our schools?
By Diana Diamond | 6 comments | 848 views