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Man killed at Caltrain station in Mountain View

Original post made on May 3, 2010

An unidentified "adult male" apparently stepped off the San Antonio Station passenger platform into the path of a speeding Caltrain commuter at 5:08 p.m. today (Monday), according to Caltrain spokesperson Christine Dunn.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 3, 2010, 7:28 PM

Comments (30)

Posted by please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 3, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Please do not speculate in this forum about who the victim may or may not have been. The authorities always release the name after it is confirmed and the family has been notified.


Posted by cc
a resident of Southgate
on May 3, 2010 at 9:19 pm

RIP


Posted by bike commuter
a resident of Green Acres
on May 3, 2010 at 11:21 pm

The abandoned shopping cart was in exactly the same place when I went by the station at 8:00am this morning as it was this evening. It may not be related to the incident.


Posted by Joyce
a resident of Mountain View
on May 4, 2010 at 1:31 am

I passed through the area around 7 on my way to the grocery store. I was really sad that something like this happened so close to home. I live just a few streets away from this station.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 4, 2010 at 5:52 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Time for gated admission to the platform and the train. See Moscow subways. We require doors on elevators, why not on train access?


Posted by Slow the Trains
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 4, 2010 at 7:43 am

A train going at a slower speed might have been able to stop in time.


Posted by Steve
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2010 at 8:55 am

Sorry, slow the trains, but there is no way a train can stop in time for a pedestrian who steps in front of it. Too much momentum. It must be hard on the engineers who have to helplessly watch this happen.


Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 4, 2010 at 9:20 am

Gated admission is definitely a good idea, though I don't think it's plausible right now. Maybe when HSR gets built, as it should be grade separated. We should make sure to lobby for gated access.

Have you guys ever ridden the subway in Toulouse, France? When you walk onto the platform, there's glass completely precluding all access to the tracks. Then, when the train pulls up, its doors line up with doors along the platform — meaning you can only cross through the platform doors where the train door has opened.

It means zero possibility of someone getting hit by a train. Is it possible with Caltrain/HSR? Maybe not...but doesn't hurt to ask.


Posted by Bond Skeptic
a resident of Community Center
on May 4, 2010 at 10:18 am

Ummm, Walter, maybe you're being facetious, but what good will the gate do on its own? To be effective, doesn't it also require licensed psychologists to interview each person requesting entrance to check for suicidal intent? Maybe having to buy a train ticket a priori will be a barrier for some, but it won't slow down those seriously intent on ending it all.

Oh, I know, maybe we need the train equivalent of "jet ways" as they have at modern airports. Well airports more modern than Mineta Int'l, that is :^) ...


Posted by ThinkingAllowed
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 4, 2010 at 10:21 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by gates
a resident of Downtown North
on May 4, 2010 at 11:06 am

Platform doors are widely used at newer train systems around the world. The gates are adjacent to the train doors and open at the same time that the train doors open. I expect that HSR will pay for gates like these for the peninsula train systems.


Posted by mike b
a resident of Mountain View
on May 4, 2010 at 11:35 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 4, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Platform doors are like elevator doors, they only open when it is safe.


Posted by Susan
a resident of Woodside
on May 4, 2010 at 12:21 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by victim identified
a resident of Downtown North
on May 4, 2010 at 12:23 pm

The county medical examiner has identified the victim as 31-year-old Christian Archibald from Sunnyvale.


Posted by PA resident
a resident of Midtown
on May 4, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Unfortunately, Mike B. comments were removed, perhaps because they were not "sensitive" and "politically correct". But when I read them I did not find them offensive or off-topic even if they were not sugar-coated.

I think Mike B. had a valid point that we can not expect society to completely protect people from themselves. It does feel like life for those of us just trying to do the right thing and proceed along every day is getting more difficult and obtrusive because of the irrational actions of a few people.


Posted by Enough!
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 4, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Time to realize there is nothing we can ever effectively do to stop people from harming themselves. STOP BLAMING THE AUTHORITIES AND THE RAILROAD. They have nothing to do with these sad, unfortunate choices.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 4, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Enough, you have no IDEA of the effort that goes into designing systems and buildings so as to make harming ones self less likely. That is why the anomaly of unprotected rail passengers bugs me.


Posted by USA
a resident of Mountain View
on May 4, 2010 at 1:50 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff].


Posted by Steve
a resident of Barron Park
on May 4, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Gated admission is interesting, but the trains are not all configured the same way, and the access car door must end up near the blue square. It's paramount to the schedule to maintain fast ingress and egress including bicycles and passengers who need assistance. We can't prevent suicides, but must do what's prudent to prevent accidents. Education about railway safety is key, as well training drivers on properly handling situations such as being stopped on the tracks.


Posted by YIMBY
a resident of University South
on May 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm

YIMBY is a registered user.

this death could be a portent of what HSR would face, no?


Posted by HSR
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 4, 2010 at 4:00 pm

HSR will undoubtedly have doors and walls between the passengers and the train tracks, as well as grade separated road crossings.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 4, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

You have to design safety in. Cars and pedestrians don't belong on tracks. The attitude of some writers is that puting railings on bridge walks is wasteful - just stay away from the edge.


Posted by bikes2work
a resident of Mountain View
on May 4, 2010 at 7:51 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Reality
a resident of Midtown
on May 5, 2010 at 1:07 am

It happens... deal with it.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 5, 2010 at 3:46 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Predestination???


Posted by Student of Culture
a resident of Community Center
on May 5, 2010 at 8:23 am

Walter, I don't think that's the point. The point is that you have not walked in the shoes of the decedent. We do not know what was going on in his life. He was 31 years old, so an adult legally responsible for his own decisions. Not all cultures are has horrified by suicide as we seem to be. In some, it is considered a reasonable thing to do, even the expected thing, under certain circumstances. E.g. feudal Japan.

What we can legitimately criticize him for is the manner of his suicide, in that he forced innocent people to participate unwillingly in his end of life plan. It is not ethical to force the Caltrain engineer to be your executioner.

If you really feel that you do not want to be in the world and you are a mentally competent adult, then it should be your right to end your life. Underage kids are a totally different story, of course. Their brains are not fully developed yet and they don't have the maturity to realize that just because you are having a miserable time in 11th grade, that does not mean that you will be miserable for the rest of your life.

Maybe we need Ethical Suicide Parlors, as in Kurt Vonnegut's story Welcome to the Monkey House. If you are not familiar with the story, I commend it to your attention.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 5, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

My Dad and maternal Grandpa were railroad engineers so I know of what you speak. We can do better now than we do.


Posted by Student of Culture
a resident of Community Center
on May 5, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Walter, thanks for your posting. I now understand better why this issue is so important to you. Unfortunately, until we eliminate the grade crossings, it's going to be pretty hard to eliminate the phenomenon of Train Assisted Suicide. My heart goes out to the Caltrain folks and the first responders who have to clean up the mess, in addition to the victims.

When I made my previous post, I had not read the updated version of the story in which it is revealed that the victim was likely the same person about to be tried for child molestation. My reference to the feudal Japanese custom of ritual suicide as atonement for disgrace was perhaps more apt than I thought.


Posted by YIMBY
a resident of University South
on May 6, 2010 at 3:28 pm

YIMBY is a registered user.

Kudos to Jay Thorwaldson and Martin Sanchez for accurate reporting, unlike Bay City News - the Merc' used their report in their article:
"A man was fatally struck by a Caltrain near the San Antonio station in Mountain View in a crash that delayed service during the bulk of Monday evening's commute, a transit agency spokeswoman said.

Southbound train No. 264 struck the pedestrian at about 5:10 p.m. near Rengstorff Avenue, according to Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn. No passengers on the train were injured. "
(Source: Caltrain fatality is fifth of year (Web Link
Bay City News Service
Posted: 05/04/2010 06:47:01 AM PDT
Updated: 05/04/2010 06:47:02 AM PD)

This is an important distinction - where the train stopped and where the crash occurred, because it shows that in this case, grade separations would not have prevented the incident.....I was just corresponding with Mr. Roadshow on this issue as a writer had mentioned it in todays column (Web Link


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