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Man killed by Caltrain in Menlo Park is identified

Original post made on Apr 7, 2008

The man killed by a Caltrain Monday morning in Menlo Park has been identified by the San Mateo County Coroner's office as Stephen Lahane, 66, of Menlo Park. No determination has been made if the death was accidental or a suicide. Photo by Veronica Weber/Palo Alto Online.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 10:59 AM

Comments (27)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2008 at 10:39 am

Once again, someone has managed to get onto the line and get themselves killed, either by accident or design. As having just come back from Europe where trains travel at up to 180 mph and there are miles of track all over the continent, this is a rarity there. Caltrain must do something to prevent people wandering onto the track. These unprotected tracks are a deathtrap - quite literally. If Europe can fence off and protect its track, then we can.

Posted by jill
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 7, 2008 at 10:56 am

We should put cattle guards on the front of trains to reduce the trauma to train drivers.

If someone is stupid enough to walk on the tracks or wants to commit suicide there is nothing we can do to stop it.

Posted by a
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 7, 2008 at 2:43 pm

''america'' doesent provide sustenance for the unknown side of man, people are material worshippers, dont think anything else is happening. dare to dream...

Posted by jill
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 7, 2008 at 3:49 pm

In many European countries physician assisted suicide is legal and encouraged.

We do not support that culture of death in the USA.

People who want to kill themselves should so some consideration for others.

How about all the commuters who were made late for work by this selfish act?.

I feel particularly sorry for the drivers of the trains who see this stuff-- it must ruin their day- or month.

And the EMTs who have to clear up the blood and gore

Potential suicides should seek help or dispose of themselves in ways that are not harm full to others.

Posted by Ada
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 7, 2008 at 5:04 pm

This sounded like suicide. One does not accidentally get into the bushes and then into a train track. Why waste tax payers dollars on fences?

Posted by Peter
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2008 at 7:41 pm

If the people who have posted here are typical of the local populace, then this country is in worse shape than I had imagined. People who commit suicide are, literally, at the end of their ropes, they see no reason to keep living, and just want out of this life. They deserve compassion and as much help as we can give them. I see no compassion, no concern for the person or his or her family here; just snide remarks, sneers, and worries that taxpayers might have to spend a couple of bucks.

People contemplating suicide are so mired in their own plight, they're not able to observe the nicities. I do feel sorry for the train drivers who have to go deal with suicides -- it can't be easy.

Posted by Ken
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2008 at 7:51 pm

Peter, why should a train be delayed two hours in order to establish that a suicide perp is dead? Move hin off the tracks, let the trains go forth, then talk about the perp's problems. In other words, take it off line (pun intended).

If we did not glorify suicide, there would be fewer of them. Either way, it is not an excuse to stop the trains for hours.

Posted by hotfudge
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 7, 2008 at 7:53 pm

how do people manage to get hit by trains? they make a ton of noise, they don't swerve and to get out of their way all you have to do is move a maximum of 5 feet in either direction.
I feel bad for suicidal people but they should not need to result to death by train there should be more peaceful human solution.

Posted by george
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2008 at 9:16 pm

too many ignorant comments here....we do not know what really happened you were late to work, so what...someone just died think of others and not just yourself...

Posted by daedallus
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 7, 2008 at 10:47 pm

I was riding close to the front cab of the train when it happened. there was a forgettable quick series of thuds underfoot amongst the drone of the mini bullet train and an immediate slowdown, shortly after which the conductor told us almost nonchalantly that there was a fatality...and that we should call our employers to tell them we would be late. instantly all the sillycon professionals onboard harumpedly started calling and messaging work in that annoyed but intrigued voice....I think only myself and one other of a whole train got up to move to the rear cab and tried to get a glimpse of the scene. they then transferred our trainload to an adjoining train after they opened up the adjacent track an hour later, but the most memorable of it all was the LED sign at the Redwood City station that flashed: "trains are running 20 mins to 30 mins late due to track abstraction"

I tip my hat to the gentleman....even in his presumedly orchestrated death he made me smile at the irony, and he's probably having a howl himself at it. you can't ask more of a memory.

Posted by katie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 7, 2008 at 11:56 pm

It makes me absolutely sick just to think about such an incident. May God forgive this man for taking his own life. I have never heard of so many suicides since moving here from the happens almost monthly it seems. Are people that stressed out? If you are contemplating suicide....just remember that there are so many places out there in this country where the cost of living is much more inexpensive and jobs are less stressful. There is more to life than BMWs and million dollar homes!! If you can't make it here, don't jump in front of the caltrain....get away!! Find someone to talk to and don't be so hard on yourself.

I feel so bad for those people who had to experience this mans tragedy....I don't know how you were able to function after something like this.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2008 at 4:20 am

Imagine an energy absorbing mass on the front of locomotives, where anyone struck would be accelerated to train speed before contacting any hard parts, and help safe until the train could be stopped. They did it 100 years ago. Fatalities could be reduced by 90%, making trains a much less attractive means of departure.

Posted by Danny
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 8, 2008 at 10:36 am

Katie writes "May God forgive this man for taking his own life." I admit I find it silly that people think they know God as though he's a guy you can chat with in line at the grocery store. Maybe if more people stopped allowing the Bible and blind faith to lead their lives they would be more compassionate and empathetic. This is very sad, but the forgiveness and recovery takes place here on earth through the victim's family and friends.

Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2008 at 11:40 am

If you want people to value another's life cheaply, redefine him.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 8, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Cal-Train is a killing machine period. It sucks. Polluting with smoke, noise and vibrations. And they call this "The high Tech rail-line". What a joke in this day and age.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2008 at 4:28 pm

perp? Glorify suicide?? wow

Posted by Ken
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2008 at 5:52 pm

Suicide does have a certain glory to it, when done in a big way that disrupts others' lives, including parents and friends and strangers. It can be a very selfish act.

Perhaps we should just ignore the suicide perps. It would deprive them of their glory. If a depressed person wants to step to the other side, he or she should do it privately, and without retributive motives. Under no circumstances, should it delay the trains.

There would probably be fewer teen suicides, if there was not a big memorial ceremony to their memory. With so many people dying of old age, disease, car accidents, war and so on, why do we give special notice to those who cause it themselves?

Let the trains roll!

Posted by ??
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2008 at 6:05 pm


There is some truth in what you say. I remember my father going to funeral after funeral of his friends, siblings, coworkers, neighbors, and at each funeral he would say, one less for mine. When he eventually died, his funeral was attended by comparatively few as so many who would have been there had gone before. Instead, dying as a sick and somewhat lonely old man, except for his immediate family, there was no one left to remember. That would indeed have saddened him. He loved going to funerals to see his friends, sadly none of his friends lived long enough to attend his.

Posted by Tim
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 8, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Cal Train is a killing machine. Get rid of this oversize and outdated piece of machine.

Posted by Ken
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2008 at 6:14 pm

No train is a killing machine. That is an absurd statement. Trains carry people and goods and are very helpful to our economy and community life.

Suicide perps kill themselves. Don't blame the trains. You might as well blame tall buildings or bridges or natural cliffs or guns or rope or rat poison. The blame is on the perp.

Posted by anon
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 9, 2008 at 2:03 am

This tragedy took place on my birthday, probably about 100 feet from where I was at the time. The scenario itself disturbs me, but not as much as some of the comments to this article do. If the man really was suicidal, can we consider the possibility that he had a mental illness and was/is deserving of compassion and sensitivity? We know essentially nothing about him, and yet some of us are blaming him for so selfishly overlooking things like train schedules and work punctuality. Our society is largely unaccommodating to those who need help the most - maybe we should stop focusing on the minute annoyances that may have occurred that day in light of the bigger picture.

Posted by Saddened
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2008 at 12:08 am

Steve was a wonderful man who gave to many and most likely did more good for more people than some of the miserable people who write here. Ken - you are a pitable non-person.

Posted by Katie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2008 at 12:26 am

Oh Danny,

God is much better than just a guy at the Safeway that I can chat with in line....according to my beliefs. I really don't understand how you can say that practicing a relgion makes me an uncompassionate person...but I guess you wouldn't understand now would you? What the statement may God forgive this man means is that I hope (compassionately) that God will take him into his arms and forgive him for selfishly taking his own life (if that is what happened)...and give him the love that he was missing in this world of uncompassionate, greedy and selfish people.

Posted by SedaO
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Please stop being so judgmental about a person you don't even know.
I was lucky to know this gentleman through his great mission, working for our youth and trying to help them with their future. He wasn't a person to commit suicide. I am thankful for the chance of getting to know him and I'm sure he will be missed greatly.

Posted by Marianne
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2008 at 9:23 pm

Please don't pre-judge this man. I knew him and had the priviledge to work with him on his mission to help underpriveledged children. I am sad beyond words for his loss. He was definitely not someone who I would have thought would end his life. He had too much to do. Too much to give. I believe he was quietly dealing with a mental illness that got the best of him. I wish he had shared his burden so that we could have helped him. I don't believe he thought about ruining the commute or even the hurt it would cause his friends and family. He was that sick and in that much pain. I will miss u Doc Lehane..... M

Posted by Phillip
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2008 at 9:11 am

Marianne, please e-mail me.
[email protected]

Posted by
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2008 at 9:32 am

This man is a close blood relative. He is 27 and has a Masters degree. He was studying Divinity when I had my last contact with him. He was a long-time volunteer among the poor of third world countries. He had vowed himself to a life of poverty and service. He was in your city to learn to work with the homeless by FIRST living as one of them. He certainly did not need to do this because of lack, but because of the greatness of his soul. He has a large extended family; almost all members have committed their lives to serving others.

In reading some of the comments regarding his death, it is obvious that some very shallow, morbid people take this young man's tragic death as a reason to criticize the government, talk of how "suicidal people" should consider how they might be affecting the daily commute, or how such should exercise better planning skills with others in mind.

I hope that this note reaches the callous, shallow fools who wrote some of these heartless, thoughtless comments above. And may the Almighty bless those whose hearts are right with Him.

Jackson Snyder
Tallahassee, FL

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