News

Atherton: Car was driven along railroad bed before being struck

When a southbound Caltrain locomotive collided with an unoccupied 1950s-era white Austin Healey convertible on the railroad tracks near Fair Oaks Lane in Atherton on the evening of Feb. 10, the collision occurred some distance from the spot where the Fair Oaks Lane crossed the tracks, said officials who investigated the incident.

Before the train arrived on the scene, the driver – a former Atherton resident in his 70s whom officials will not identify – had been heading east on Fair Oaks when, for unknown reasons, he turned right as he was crossing the railroad tracks and began driving south on the railroad bed, according an account by transit police as told to Caltrain spokesman Dan Lieberman.

The driver, unable to turn off the tracks and aware of the train coming toward him, left the car on the tracks "a few hundred feet" south of the intersection and alongside the Atherton train station, Mr. Lieberman said.

After the collision, the locomotive, now with the car on fire and entangled under its grill, pushed it for about a quarter-mile before coming to a stop just north of the Watkins Avenue crossing, officials said at the time.

The accident left the car destroyed and the locomotive with more than $100,000 in damages, Mr. Lieberman said. There were no reports of injuries.

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Firefighters extinguished the blaze and transferred more than 300 Caltrain passengers to another train.

Fire crews then worked to disentangle the car, much of it reduced to twisted metal and debris, from underneath the locomotive, fire officials said.

Transit police said they have no plans to identify the driver, or to charge him with a crime, Mr. Lieberman said.

People in similar situations have claimed that their GPS devices told them to turn onto the tracks, Mr. Lieberman said, adding, "Regardless of what the GPS is telling you, there's never a good time to be ... on Caltrain tracks."

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Atherton: Car was driven along railroad bed before being struck

Uploaded: Thu, Feb 22, 2018, 8:44 am

When a southbound Caltrain locomotive collided with an unoccupied 1950s-era white Austin Healey convertible on the railroad tracks near Fair Oaks Lane in Atherton on the evening of Feb. 10, the collision occurred some distance from the spot where the Fair Oaks Lane crossed the tracks, said officials who investigated the incident.

Before the train arrived on the scene, the driver – a former Atherton resident in his 70s whom officials will not identify – had been heading east on Fair Oaks when, for unknown reasons, he turned right as he was crossing the railroad tracks and began driving south on the railroad bed, according an account by transit police as told to Caltrain spokesman Dan Lieberman.

The driver, unable to turn off the tracks and aware of the train coming toward him, left the car on the tracks "a few hundred feet" south of the intersection and alongside the Atherton train station, Mr. Lieberman said.

After the collision, the locomotive, now with the car on fire and entangled under its grill, pushed it for about a quarter-mile before coming to a stop just north of the Watkins Avenue crossing, officials said at the time.

The accident left the car destroyed and the locomotive with more than $100,000 in damages, Mr. Lieberman said. There were no reports of injuries.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze and transferred more than 300 Caltrain passengers to another train.

Fire crews then worked to disentangle the car, much of it reduced to twisted metal and debris, from underneath the locomotive, fire officials said.

Transit police said they have no plans to identify the driver, or to charge him with a crime, Mr. Lieberman said.

People in similar situations have claimed that their GPS devices told them to turn onto the tracks, Mr. Lieberman said, adding, "Regardless of what the GPS is telling you, there's never a good time to be ... on Caltrain tracks."

— Dave Boyce

Comments

Glad To Be Gone
Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Feb 22, 2018 at 10:08 am
Glad To Be Gone, Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Feb 22, 2018 at 10:08 am

So you can just make a REALLY bad turn (off-roading it) blaming it on your GPS, and not be named or cited? If I did that, my name would have been plastered everywhere and I would be reimbursing those $100K damages for the train. Shouldn't be driving at night if you can't tell the difference between a paved road and the side of a train track. Let's stop blaming GPS, seriously ridiculous. The lack of naming the driver is intriguing...must be someone interesting!


MP resident
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2018 at 12:33 pm
MP resident, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Yes. Amazing that no charges were brought and no name mentioned when the names of some people are published for being only accused of a crime. Guess those folks didn’t live in Atherton.


Steve_J
Registered user
another community
on Feb 22, 2018 at 1:33 pm
Steve_J, another community
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2018 at 1:33 pm

I see nothing that would prevent Cal Train from collecting the $100,000 from the driver!!


Clunge
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 22, 2018 at 3:12 pm
Clunge, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 22, 2018 at 3:12 pm

[Post removed. The driver was a former Atherton resident, according to investigators; and it was never reported that this driver was using GPS. There are unanswered questions, but it doesn't help to state speculation as fact.]


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Feb 22, 2018 at 8:39 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2018 at 8:39 pm

Editor: "former Atherton Resident"? So what? Why wasn't this person charged and why weren't they identified. My guess is that if they weren't a "former Atherton resident" they would have been identified. Some former moron, (or drunk) Atherton resident drove a car onto the Caltrain tracks and caused $100,000 damage and created a problem for 300 people. This person likely has wealth and power. It's time to stop kowtowing to these people and demanding responsibility. WHO DROVE THEIR CAR ONTO THE CALTRAIN TRACKS? Do your job Almanac and press for this information.


resident
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 22, 2018 at 8:44 pm
resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 22, 2018 at 8:44 pm

Does this railroad crossing need better lighting to make it more clear that it is not a street intersection? It is well known that your night vision deteriorates as you age.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 22, 2018 at 8:52 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2018 at 8:52 pm

The street alignment approaching this crossing from the West invites confusion.

The Town should realign this crossing before a more serious incident occurs.


ya think,
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Feb 22, 2018 at 9:35 pm
ya think, , Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2018 at 9:35 pm


you gotta love that last line


"Regardless of what the GPS is telling you,


there's never a good time to be ... on Caltrain tracks."


Downtowner
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 7:12 am
Downtowner, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 7:12 am

What a sad & ignominious end for a beautiful driving machine!
The driver, or his insurance, should have to pay for the damages. If it had been any old Honda or Chevy on the tracks, the driver'd be named & billed.


Yew Betcha!
Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 23, 2018 at 3:08 pm
Yew Betcha!, Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 23, 2018 at 3:08 pm

Yep . . . once again the Fix was in!


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