Amtrak Train Kills Woman In Northwest Berkeley

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday December 04, 2007

Melinda Jane Morales, 59, of Richmond was struck and killed at 7:25 p.m. Saturday by an Amtrak Capital Corridor train heading south toward San Jose at or near the Gilman Street crossing. 

The accident, still under investigation, follows on the heels of the Nov. 15 death of Scott Slaughter, 31, of Oakland, killed when he crossed the train tracks north of the Berkeley Amtrak Station taking a short cut through a hole in the fence by the tracks to get to his job at Truitt & White on Hearst Avenue. 

On Saturday, the train was traveling at about 73 miles per hour, according to Vernae Graham, Amtrak spokesperson. It was able to stop by the time it got to Virginia St., Lt. Wesley Hester, Berkeley Police Department told the Planet.  

Witness testimony could not be verified, Hester said. One person told police the victim was walking along the tracks and another said the person on the tracks appeared to be waving at the train. 

The two train-track deaths happened not far from one another, both in Councilmember Linda Maio’s district. When reached Monday afternoon, Maio said she had spoken to the police chief, who was trying to get more information on the incident from Union Pacific, which is the lead agency conducting the investigation. 

“I’m very concerned about these trains going through urban areas—they can be quite dangerous,” she said, noting that in the East, some trains run through tunnels underground in heavily populated areas.