Reader Mail: Another Fatality on the N Judah

Holy guac! We just got word of news about another potential fatality on the N-Judah line this evening. Reader Jeff writes:

News helicopters are overhead right now. Judah is closed off 28th Ave – 30th Ave. I just got home, but it looks like it happened about an hour ago.
My neighbor tells me someone was trying to get onto the train and got caught somehow. Passengers tried to alert the driver, but the train didn’t stop in time.
I’m guessing the accident will be on the 11:00 news with all the details.

I got home around 8pm and missed this incident. This sounds pretty bad, though, so if anyone has info or details, please feel free to post in the comments. I’ll be up for a few more hours to post details as they come in.
UPDATE: Bay City News has the story so far….
UPDATE 2:, The Chronicle has more information about the incident as well. This is so depressing.

PS: What’s depressing to me is that when I started this little blog for fun, I really didn’t expect that a) anyone would even read it and b) that the biggest draw to the site would be a string of deaths by MUNI.
I would much much much rather have people coming to the site because of some funny story I have to tell or some review of a cool local business, instead of this. Then you read some of the SICK comments at the Gate and you begin to wonder just what kind of city this place is becoming.
And yet all the while as we’re having a spiraling rate of accidents on MUNI (with fatalities), we read in the Chronicle that MORE money is being siphoned from MUNI to pay salaries in the MAYOR’s office, at a time when we’re told “times are tough” and “cuts must be made.” And don’t forget the big pay raises the MTA just gave the MUNI boss.
Would a few extra dollars have prevented these accidents? I have no idea. But I do know that when an institution is oriented towards big pay for the top, and big cuts to safety, employee morale, and public awareness of the realities of living in a congested urban environment, in the end you can expect said institution to fail the people it was created to serve. I’m all for rewarding public service – but when did public service become an entitlement program for a select class of insiders and top level bureaucrats?
I wish there was one solution, one magic bullet to fix all these problems, or at least just one group of people we could blame, punish,and move on. Unfortunately, things don’t work that way (despite what some say these days).
I’m just amazed what with all the allegedly smart people we’re paying big pay to at the Mayor’s office, the MTA, the Board of Supervisors, the SFPD, a whole host of city agencies, city-funded nonprofits, loud “advocates” for bikes and whatnots, and more, we can’t get past “cover your ass, ” “it’s not my problem,” “you can all go to hell it’s all about me.” and more and figure out a way to move forward so we all can just live our lives and go about our business.
Once upon a time we didn’t have this many deaths by MUNI – has society crumbled so much that now we not only accept this, but also have a “throw ’em to the lions” mentality as well?
I’m waiting for the big geniuses with the big pay to come over here and respond and tell us what they will or won’t or can or can’t do. I’m not holding my breath though. Guess they all have to pick up a new Mercedes or something instead…

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10 Responses to Reader Mail: Another Fatality on the N Judah

  1. E says:

    Hi Greg,
    My boyfriend and I live on 33rd and Judah. We had a glimpse of the scene while walking back home. Many apologies if this may sound quite graphic. However, the police have sectioned off 28th and 30th Ave., not only to investigate the accident, but to scrap up what appears to be human remains off the asphalt. It is definitely a horrific and shocking sight.
    From what our neighbors tell us, the victim was chasing the train, fell, and was caught under the train. As we stood at the corner of 29 Ave., there are indications that the person was surely dragged by the train for at least two blocks. And by the looks of what we saw lying on the street, the victim could not have survived this accident.
    Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim and victim’s family.

  2. Jason says:

    Ack! Still, thanks for letting us know, E.’s got an article up now. Apparently, an L-Taraval struck a car on the same night.

  3. Jeff says:

    I catch the N at 31st during my morning commute sometimes, and am trying to figure out just how this happened.
    There’s a small rise on Judah right there, which can hide an incoming train from view (and even muffle the sound, somewhat) until it’s right at the intersection. Someone with impaired sight/hearing or mobility issues might not notice it until it’s too late…or the person could have been making for an N and been startled by an oncoming car.
    As a regular rider of this line, this really hits home. I do see the occasional careless pedestrian, but far more careless drivers and train operators.
    Just awful.

  4. james says:

    doesn’t the train have emergency stop features somewhere inside one of the folks watching him die could have used?

  5. Jeff H. says:

    @James: Those trains do have emergency stop levels (and I have to figure out where they are TODAY and commit that to memory). From what I’ve heard, the witnesses outside the train were the ones who got the driver to stop. The passengers might not have been able to see or hear anything.
    @Greg: Completely agree with your post (especially the remark about SF Gate’s comments). I hope you have more good news to report in the future, and less stuff like this.

  6. Jeff H. says:

    @James: Those trains do have emergency stop levers (and I have to figure out where they are TODAY and commit that to memory), but from what I’ve heard, the witnesses outside the train were the ones who got the driver to stop. The passengers might not have been able to see or hear anything.
    @Greg: Completely agree with your post (especially the remark about SF Gate’s comments). I hope you have more good news to report in the future, and less stuff like this.

  7. Doc says:

    @Greg. I totally agree with you that there in no magic bullet and that everyone is just trying to cover thier asses. It is evident in every employee of our transit system. It is really sad that residents are losing there lives due to a complete lack of commitment to solve the saftey issues of Muni.
    I have spent quite a bit of time in Munich lately and the light rail there is terrific. It is actually designed to be safe for everyone and efficient. It was a pleasure to use it. We should use them as an example. Less cross traffic, transit specific traffic signals, safe boarding platforms, well trained courteous drivers and big consequences to pedestrians and drivers who violate the law.
    There isn’t one person or one thing that will improve Muni, but together we can all help to improve the many things that will make it safer and more efficient. Not tolerating the status que is the first step. (steps off soap-box)

  8. Alex says:

    The small red buttons towards the top of the pillar by the destination signs. There are, I believe, at least two per train (one at each end). Perhaps there are four.
    If only there was a door interlock that would prevent the trains from moving if the doors were open.
    There’s absolutely no reason for this to happen. NONE.
    Where is Rescue MUNI to rescue us from MUNI?
    If we can’t fire these drivers, we ought to penalize them and their superiors financially. For every person maimed or murdered by MUNI, Natty Tatty Ford, the drivers involved, and their supervisors ought to be docked a two weeks pay…. if only to pay for the resulting settlements.

  9. Hector says:

    Its a sad story that didn’t have to happen. I spent five years riding the N-Judah and always found it to be relatively safe and efficient so I’m surprised to hear of the recent spate of fatal accidents. Unless its changed in the last year or so, the doors close completely before the train moves. When the door buttons on the outside of the train stop flashing, they won’t open and you’re S.O.L. until the next N arrives(which always felt like an eternity.) Its tragic that this guy slipped making a break for the door but I wouldn’t fault the MUNI system as whole because of it.

  10. Alex says:

    As a quick followup, there are indeed only TWO emergency brake buttons. They’re located just after the window that’s next to doors 1/3 (each door is labeled A1, B1, etc).

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