Mother pushes daughter out of train’s path but can’t save herself

A Riverside woman died Saturday evening as she struggled to push a baby stroller over a gated railroad crossing and was struck by a passing train. The woman’s 2-year-old daughter was not hit.

The woman, 33-year-old Susan Dibene of Riverside, was pushing her daughter along the sidewalk on Mary Street around 7 p.m. As they approached the train tracks, the railroad safety arms began to lower, signaling that a train was approaching, police officials said Sunday.

Dibene tried to cross ahead of the oncoming Metrolink train. The train’s conductor and engineer saw the woman wrestling with the stroller as it twice got lodged in the tracks, Riverside Police Sgt. Skip Showalter said. They blew the train’s horn and tried to brake but were unable to stop in time.

The first time the stroller became stuck, Dibene freed it and continued crossing. The stroller got stuck a second time, and again, Dibene struggled to free it. Finally, she managed to dislodge the stroller and push her daughter out of the train’s path. But she did not have time to save herself. She died at the scene.


The child was uninjured and was released to her grandmother after being taken to Riverside County Hospital for an examination.

The 60 passengers on board the train, bound for San Bernardino from Oceanside, were shuttled by bus to their destinations.

Dibene’s mother, Donna Muraco, 63, of Placentia, said her daughter lived around the corner from where she died and might have walked to a the Circle K store on the corner of Mary Street and Indiana Avenue before she was killed. The 2-year-old girl, Paris Belle, was Dibene’s only child.

Muraco said Dibene was an “extremely giving, very creative” person, a talented photographer and a florist.


“She was a wonderful mother. She saved her daughter’s life,” Muraco said.

But officials said the child should never have been placed in danger.

“She should never have put her child in harm’s way to begin with,” Showalter said.

Muraco said Sunday that the girl is staying with her father; he could not be reached for comment.


The crash was under investigation by Metrolink, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Riverside County coroner and the Riverside Police Department.