A woman was killed early Wednesday, hit by a SMART train in southern Santa Rosa, according to emergency reports.
The death marks the first reported fatality in connection with operation of the commuter train, which launched service in August.
The collision was witnessed by at least one person who said it appeared the woman knew the train was approaching and made no effort to get out of the way, even as the train’s horned blared to warn her.
“She didn’t move,” said Ron Kiger, an employee at nearby Mead Clark Lumber. Kiger said he watched, stunned, wondering “Is she going to move?”
Then the train hit her.
“I ran down to see if I could help,” he said, checking her pulse. “There was no help to be made. I’ve never seen a body so twisted.”
The first report of the collision came from SMART train dispatchers who contacted emergency dispatchers at 7:36 a.m. to report a collision between the train and a pedestrian at Hearn Avenue.
Santa Rosa firefighters and AMR paramedics found the woman’s body on the west side of the tracks, just south of Hearn Avenue.
A passenger on a southbound train said the train had stopped and riders weren’t aware of what happened. “One of the conductors said they’d hit something and they’ve come on the intercom about three times to say they’d had an incident at the road crossing. They said to stay calm, stay in your seat and they would keep us posted,” said the man, who declined to give his name.
At 8 a.m. Santa Rosa police issued a public alert for drivers to avoid Hearn Avenue at the railroads tracks. The road was closed a block in each direction from the tracks, and huge long lines of yellow police tape roped off the area.
Santa Rosa police Sgt. Summer Black said officers were talking to the engineer driving the train, the conductor and 20 passengers on board. Video from the train, expected to be viewed by police later Wednesday, was expected to show the woman’s movement as the train approached, said SMART Police Chief Jennifer Welch, who was at the crash scene.
“We want to understand exactly the train’s and pedestrian’s movements,” Welch said. “The video will be telling.”
Welch called the death a tragedy. “As a new agency we have trained on this type of incident. We know we aren’t immune to it.”
The passengers and train remained at the scene more than two hours afterward. Welch said service remained open to the north and south, with buses being used to bridge the closure.
On the train, the passenger described the scene once police arrived, after 8 a.m., saying several Santa Rosa officers boarded the train and interviewed each person, taking photographs of everyone’s photo identification and asking what they’d been aware of or what they’d seen.
Passengers received repeated updates, and were escorted off the train to another brought in so they could use restrooms, the passenger said. By about 9:40 a.m. they were moving.
Check back for details.
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or email@example.com. On Twitter@rossmannreport.