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Woman killed in south Palo Alto train crash
Original post made
on Jun 28, 2007
One person is dead following a Caltrain accident in south Palo Alto in which an older model Toyota Camry was hit at the railroad crossing at West Meadow Drive and Alma Street. More details as they become available. Photo by Marjan Sadoughi.
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Posted by Churchill, at Alma
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 29, 2007 at 6:40 pm
I lived on Churchill, at Alma, for fifteen years. Been a resident of Palo Alto, for 34. In our fifteen years of close proximity to the railroad tracks and crossings, we have seen just about every sort of foolish human behavior possible.
I am very sorry a woman lost her life yesterday. It saddens me what her family is going through, what her child has lost. It also saddens me what the engineer of that train must be going through. What the passengers, and even people who live along the railroad, may have seen. So many people affected; and in my mind, for so little reason.
THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN!
If you break this down logically, you would realize that as Safety First said; the Train will always win. Next, think about the locations of these various crossings. Each crossing supports school traffic (there is at least one school on the same block of each of these crossings), cars, pedestrians and bicyclists. Each crossing has a safety arm. Each crossing has a loud warning tone or bell. Each crossing has flashing lights. We used to be able to hear the bells, we could see the lights flashing, and feel the rumble of the train, IN OUR HOUSE!
Next, because I am curious, having seen so much foolish behavior on at the crossings...I have looked each way down the track when stopped waiting for a train to pass,and tried to judge just how long it takes for all those warnings to begin. Generally, the train appears to be a good 3/4 of a mile away, probably more, when I can first spot it. At this point, all warnings are already going off, and safety arms are already dropped.
There is ample time to get out of a car if it is stalled on the tracks. There is ample warning, before those arms drop, to get clear of the tracks. Even for the idiots who actually stop on the tracks waiting for the light to change which several locals do, knowing that the light changes out of turn to clear that intersection before the train actually crosses said intersection).
I have seen Paly Students, more times than I care to count, sitting on the tracks bumper to bumper with their friends in front of them...banking on the clearing of that intersection when the light changes. They put a lot of faith in technology! Shouldn't count on it as an absolute, I have seen that light change so that cars can go Eastbound on Churchill, only to be stopped because of some sort of backup on Alma, or on Churchill itself. If people were where they were supposed to be, no problem. If you are the fool taking the foolish chance, you are a sitting duck. Excuse me if you take exception to the appellation 'fool', but truthfully, what else can you be if you practice these reckless behaviors?
I was home when a motorist watched the northbound train go by, then decide she waited long enough, I suppose, and started to cross...the southbound train was coming...she was saved by a quick thinking motorist behind her. Her car wasn't so lucky. Dragged hundreds of feet, totaled. A mere week or so later, a similar accident happened at Alma and El Camino, that crossing into Menlo Park. Those North and Southbound cars that happen to cross at almost the same times, are moving fast...is it so very difficult to look both ways before crossing? I thought we all learned that little ditty at our mama's knee...
I have seen motorists of all ages, when the arms take a bit too much time to raise back up, scoot around in a zig zag to get to the other side. I have seen kids in bikes try to beat the train. We all know of stories of the kids who didn't.
If you get stuck on the tracks, your car breaks down or traffic isn't moving, GET THE HELL OUT!!! You DO have time if you move quickly...let the car go, it's only a hunk of metal! If your bike gets caught, DROP IT, IT'S ONLY A BICYCLE! If you drop your backpack, LEAVE IT...none of these material things are worth your life!
What happened yesterday, well it's my guess maybe it was a suicide, we sure get plenty of those too. Who knows for sure what happened to that poor woman...regardless, outside of a deliberate and willful act, train pedestrian/car accidents should be rare. Very, very rare. They are seldom the fault of faulty technology, they are almost never the fault of the railroad; they are usually the fault of human error and misjudgment. Trains are large noisy contraptions, they move fast, they have been here longer than most of the houses in this town...there has to be a point where they SHOULD BE RESPECTED for their power and the damage they can do to the people who think that their personal agenda's are somehow more important than the ultimate safety of everyone else involved at a train crossing.
There should also be respect for the fact that the land the tracks run on is owned by the railroad company, and people should not be trespassing by walking, running, biking or otherwise messing about the tracks.
Maybe, if instead of more signs, and more government solutions to protect the few, we spent more time educating our friends and family on the dangers of being in too much of a hurry, teach them of the realities of the various obstacles we face on the road, we would have less of these fatalities.
Maybe, we should teach others, and ourselves, ABOUT PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY. Not more signs. More awareness.