Two people are dead after separate collisions with Caltrain Monday, and in a strange twist, the train sent to pick up passengers stranded by the first collision was the one that struck and killed a pedestrian in the second.
At around 4:46 p.m. Monday, Caltrain #360 struck a car that was parked on the tracks in Menlo Park, Caltrain spokesperson Jayme Ackemann says.
The car was thrown nearly 40 feet in the collision, and the vehicle was so badly damaged that crews had to extricate the car's driver, a 30-year-old woman who has yet to be publicly identified, from the wreckage. She was declared dead at Stanford Hospital shortly thereafter, Ackemann says.
Trains in both directions was halted for hours as police and fire crews investigated the collision. Rail service had just resumed when at around 9 p.m. an out-of-service southbound Caltrain struck a man in their "Tunnel One" leading out of San Francisco, Ackemann says.
The Chron reports that Tunnel One is "the first of three Caltrain tunnels leading out of the city to the Peninsula."
"In a sad coincidence", they report, the out-of-service train "was heading out of San Francisco to pick up passengers who were delayed" by the Menlo Park collision.
The man in the tunnel was likely killed on impact, Ackemann says. According to the San Francisco Medical Examiner's office, he has yet to be identified publicly, due to family notification issues.
The Chron reports that Caltrain's SF tunnels "are so notoriously occupied by wanderers and homeless encampments that city and transit police officers do frequent patrols of the area to clear the tracks."
Those patrols might have kept trains from hitting people in the past, as Ackemann notes that this is the first fatality in an SF Caltrain tunnel in over a year.
“We probably get at least one call a week from police to hold a train because someone is in a tunnel and they need to clear it,” Ackemann told the Chron.