Caltrain strikes car on tracks, kills man

September 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
While trapped on the tracks in a freak accident on Tuesday night, a man was killed because he could not get his car out of the way of a Caltrain. It happened on Whipple Avenue in Redwood City, near El Camino Real.

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Trains slowly crept across Whipple Avenue after an express Caltrain smashed into a car that was stopped on the tracks.

The reason the driver of the black Honda Civic was even on the tracks is because a fire truck was rushing down El Camino on its way to a house fire. As a result, traffic on Whipple backed up.

"So all the cars in front of the Civic stopped, as they are supposed to, he got stuck. There were cars on all four sides of him. He had no place to go," says Mark Simon from Caltrain.

The safety arms came down, trapping the driver.

"It's a terrible misfortune, you start thinking about all the things you might do and how you might do them differently when you hear about something like this, but it's tough to speculate how each of us would have responded," says Simon.

"This is something that never ever should have happened," said resident Jan LaMantia.

LaMantia's reaction to this crash is with anger. As the former neighborhood association's co-chair, she pushed Caltrain to build an above ground train trestle like the one less than a mile from Tuesday's crash. However, her own neighbors opposed it fearing traffic would get even worse.

"I'd much rather put up with a year and a half or two years or three years of more traffic in our neighborhood to have safety and we don't have that right now," says Lamantia.

Investigators are still looking into whether all safety measures were followed and whether the car itself malfunctioned.

The victim's name has not been released.

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