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Train death ruled suicide

Coroner’s Office has yet to identify victim

Posted: April 2, 2009 1:08 a.m.
Updated: April 2, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Sheriff's deputies walk past a sign that warns pedestrians to stay off the tracks as they prepare to enter a Metrolink train that struck a person in Canyon Country Tuesday evening.

The death of a man who was killed by a Metrolink train Tuesday night was ruled a suicide by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office Wednesday.

Metrolink train 215, traveling between Los Angeles and Lancaster, struck the man shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday near Oak Spring Canyon Road. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Coroner’s Office still is unable to identify the victim, Lt. Fred Corral said.

“He is a male Caucasian in his 40s, but he came in real messed up and we don’t have much to identify him with,” Corral said.

The Coroner’s Office will use fingerprints to aid in identifying the victim, he said.  

The death helped to launch two separate investigations following the incident, said Francisco Oaxaca, Metrolink spokesman.

“(Metrolink’s) investigation is limited to the operation of the train. In an incident like this when someone puts themselves in front of the train, the investigation is limited,” he said.

A secondary investigation was launched by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, according to a sheriff’s official. The Homicide Bureau routinely investigates suicides.

The train’s engineer spotted the victim shortly before the engine struck him, Oaxaca said.

“(The engineer) saw him and started hitting the horn and applying the brakes,” he said. “It takes several hundred feet to stop the train, even when you apply full braking.”

The speed of the train prior to impact has not been determined, Oaxaca said.

Metrolink operates hundreds of miles at grade level, making the system easily accessible, Oaxaca said. But that easy access wasn’t a factor in Tuesday’s incident.

“The nearest road crossing was three miles away, as was the nearest train station.” Oaxaca said. “If someone is determined to get in front of the train, there’s nothing that can be done.”   

Tuesday’s collision marks the first fatal rail incident in the Santa Clarita Valley since two people were struck by a Metrolink train on April 13, 2006. That’s when Sandra Fabiola Quijada Garcia, 16, of Santa Clarita and Fernando Nava Munoz, 19, of Palmdale, were struck in Newhall and killed by a Metrolink train headed toward Los Angeles.  



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