Metrolink Train Hits, Kills Man Trying to Save Dog in Simi Valley

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A man who was apparently trying to rescue his dog from an oncoming Metrolink train was struck and killed by its engine as it traveled westbound through Simi Valley on Friday afternoon, authorities said.

The victim, a white male who appeared to be in his 30s, had not been identified late Friday, according to Simi Valley police.

The incident marked the second Metrolink fatality ever in Ventura County and the fourth fatal Metrolink accident so far this year, said Peter Hidalgo, spokesman for the commuter rail line. Ventura County's first fatal Metrolink accident occurred on Christmas Eve, 1992, when a Simi Valley man committed suicide by jumping in front of a train.

Authorities said the victim in Friday's accident was thrown about 30 feet into dense brush north of the tracks and was believed to have died instantly.

His small black dog was also killed. Its body landed about 30 feet from its owner, according to authorities with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which patrols the Metrolink rail line.

The accident happened at 5:25 p.m., just before the train pulled into the Simi Valley station, authorities said. The man was walking with his dog along the tracks near Katherine Road when the train came through the Santa Susana tunnel and approached them going about 50 m.p.h., Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Marko said.

The engineer spotted the man and began sounding the train's horn, Hidalgo said, adding that the man appeared to hear the horn.

"The man tried to reach down to get his dog and was struck," Hidalgo said. "In an effort to save his dog, he gave his life."

Standing near the site of the accident, Marko called the accident "a real waste." He said the dog was not on a leash.

As he spoke, onlookers wandered close to the right of way at Katherine Road. Several of them had dogs, none on leashes.

Marko pointed out in an interview: "All rail property is private property. It is a violation of law to walk along or across the tracks."

Hidalgo said Metrolink has tried to communicate to the public that being on the tracks is both unsafe and illegal.

"But people think that it's a nice path to jog along or walk along because it is off the streets and there is no traffic," he said.

The train, which had left Los Angeles at 4:26 p.m., was en route to Oxnard at the time of the accident. No one on board was injured.

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