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Caltrain kills woman with walker in Menlo Park

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  • 11/30 Palo Alto Daily
    Published Friday, November 30, 2001, in the Palo Alto Daily News Woman with walker killed by Caltrain By Tami Min Daily News Staff Writer While transportation
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2001
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      Published Friday, November 30, 2001, in the Palo Alto Daily News

      Woman with walker killed by Caltrain

      By Tami Min
      Daily News Staff Writer

      While transportation boards debate plans to separate the street from
      Caltrain tracks at four locations in Menlo Park, the fatality count
      for this year on the Caltrain track went up to 13 last night.

      An elderly woman using a walker was hit by southbound train No. 70 at
      5:30 p.m. at Encinal Avenue in Menlo Park.

      It was not immediately clear if it was an accident or a suicide
      attempt.

      Menlo Park resident Leila Whitehead, 20, was waiting to cross from
      east of the tracks in her car when she saw the elderly woman standing
      on the other side.

      "She was on the marker. She was trying to walk across," Whitehead
      said. "Her hair blew back, the train went by ... (and) there was a
      look on her face."

      Whitehead said she didn't know if it was an expression
      of "exhilaration or fright." Then the train stopped almost
      immediately after it hit the woman, she said. A purple slipper and
      the woman's walker fell next to the tracks.

      The southbound trains were stopped for more than an hour, Caltrain
      spokeswoman Jayme Maltbie said. Last night, officials expected about
      one-hour delays throughout the entire system.

      Menlo Park police said, according to witnesses, the crossing arms
      were down and warning lights and bells were flashing and sounding. An
      investigation is underway and the San Mateo County Coroner's office
      is expected to release the identity of the woman today.

      Menlo Park City Council member Steve Schmidt, who has been an
      advocate for grade separations along the Caltrain, said he's "just
      horrified that people are injured and killed by the train."

      Schmidt says four separation projects have been proposed in Menlo
      Park and one of them is planned for Encinal Avenue.

      The other three have been proposed for Ravenswood Avenue, Oak Grove
      Avenue and Glenwood Avenue. A fifth separation designed for
      bicyclists and pedestrians has been planned at Willow Road.

      "They're expensive, but you can't put a dollar value on one person's
      life," Schmidt said.

      Schmidt, who serves on the boards of directors of SamTrans and the
      Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers of Caltrain, said a single such
      project costs about $30 million.

      "Countywide, the will is there to do this. There's no doubt in my
      mind," he said.
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