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California train crashes: Two people die in three Bay Area collisions

California train crashes: Two people die in three Bay Area collisions
Three Northern California train crashes ended in two deaths. One woman was hit standing on tracks in a Palo Alto station. Caltrain says suicide is a problem on local tracks. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

A major Southern California commuter train derailment made headlines Tuesday, but in Northern California, three people were hit by trains in less than 24 hours. Two of those struck were killed.

The string of collisions began about 4:45 p.m. Monday when an SUV became pinned between the railroad crossing gates at a Menlo Park crossing.

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FOR THE RECORD

An earlier version of this post said that a woman was struck and killed Tuesday at the Palo Alto station. She was injured.

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A Caltrain express train that shuttles passengers between San Jose and San Francisco was headed into the area at that time. The SUV was broadsided by the train, which travels through that area at up to 79 mph, said service spokeswoman Christine Dunn.

The driver, described as a woman in her 30s, died from her injuries.

A few hours later, in northern San Francisco, a man walking in a train tunnel was hit by an out-of-service train. The man died from his injuries. No one else was injured.

Combined, the two accidents wreaked havoc on Bay Area commuters Monday night and delayed service between San Francisco and San Jose by more than an hour, Dunn said.

The third crash came just before noon Tuesday. A woman wound up on the tracks at the Palo Alto station and was hit and injured by an oncoming train. Authorities are looking into whether she had deliberately stepped onto the tracks.

Because most of Caltrains' fatal crashes are suicides, the service has launched a page dedicated to connecting those in need with help.

In Southern California on Tuesday, a Metrolink train headed for downtown Los Angeles slammed into a truck stuck on the tracks in Oxnard and derailed, injuring nearly 30 people.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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