Officials trying to prevent further tragedies along SMART train corridor in North Bay

ROHNERT PARK, Calif. (KGO) -- The North Bay's Smart Train has more than the usual bells, lights, and gates near Golf Course Drive in Rohnert Park, on Tuesday. They also had a police officer keeping an eye on the crossing.

That's a first step after a pedestrian died, here, Monday afternoon.

In this case, SMART general manager Farhad Mansourian says it appears to have been a suicide.

"My heart stops. We feel about the families that have to go through that. Or, our employees."

Monday's death may have been a suicide, but SMART has seen five people die in the last month, two of them by accident. Trains moving at 79 miles per hour in close proximity to cars and people have never been a popular mix.

"You know when the train is coming. You either choose to be there or you move," said Laura Elkurdi, who lives near the tracks.

Now, with the suicides, SMART has encountered some of the same problems as Cal Train and the Golden Gate Bridge. SMART regards suicides as more of a symptom than a cause.

"This is not a train crisis. This is a public health crisis," said Mansourian.

Suicide prevention groups agree.

"It is alarming and concerning but there is something to do about it," said Kara Connors, who works for the Buckelew Programs, which has already placed signs near SMART tracks, offering help through a suicide hotline.

Now, after the recent deaths, they're talking about solutions ranging from better insulation between tracks and pedestrians-- to outreach, to people being more aware.

"There is not one particular issue that causes someone to take their life," said Connors. "People are taking their lives on the tracks and we can't have it anymore."
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