Woman dies after being struck by train in Palo Alto

Woman identified as 2014 graduate of Gunn High School

A 19-year-old woman who was struck by a train Friday afternoon near downtown Palo Alto has died, Caltrain confirmed. She was identified by the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner as Sarah Marie Longyear.

She was a 2014 graduate of Gunn High School, according to a message Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Max McGee sent to staff and parents Saturday.

Ms. Longyear (the daughter of longtime Menlo-Atherton High School swim coach and biology teacher Rick Longyear) sustained significant injuries after she was hit by a northbound train near Palo Alto Avenue, according to Caltrain.

She was initially reported as alive and was transported to Stanford Hospital. She died in the hospital, according to Caltrain spokesperson Jayme Ackemann.

The Friday incident occurred at about 3 p.m., near the Transit Center in downtown Palo Alto. Elena Wychoff, a passenger on the train involved in the incident, said she heard the collision. Wychoff said she was in the second car from the front.

Trains were stopped in both directions while officers from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office investigated the incident. Service in both directions resumed at 3:45 p.m., according to Caltrain.

Ms. Ackemann said northbound train #155 returned to the downtown station, where passengers got off and the boarded the next northbound train.

Shortly after the incident, Alma Street was closed to traffic at Hawthorne Avenue and at Alma and El Camino Real. Northbound traffic was diverted to Hawthorne. Alma reopened in both directions just after 4 p.m.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority provided a bus service for passengers between the Menlo Park, Palo Alto and California Avenue stations.

Grief counselors, mental-health therapists and psychologists will be available to support students and teachers at Gunn and throughout the school district on Monday and throughout the week, McGee wrote in his message to the school community.

"I also would like to stress that it is imperative for all of us to be vigilant and keep a close eye on our children and to encourage them to look after one another," he wrote.


Any person who is feeling depressed, troubled or suicidal is urged to call 1-800-784-2433 to speak with a crisis counselor. People in Santa Clara County can also call 1-855-278-4204.

Links below provide resources where one can receive help and safety information:

How to help those in crisis

Suicide prevention

Safety and security

Pedestrian Safety tips

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


13 people like this
Posted by menmom
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 25, 2016 at 7:59 am

So sorry for the Longyear family.

12 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 25, 2016 at 1:26 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Condolences to the Longyear family. A very sad day for her friends and family.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Couple brings Chinese zongzi to Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 5,782 views

Don't Miss Your Exit (and other lessons from an EV drive)
By Sherry Listgarten | 6 comments | 1,377 views

Goodbye Food Waste!
By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 1,252 views

"Better" Dads and "Re-invigorated" Moms: Happier Couples
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,079 views

Bobby in Naziland: A Tale of Flatbush
By Stuart Soffer | 2 comments | 487 views


Register today!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More