Albany Woman Killed by Amtrak Train in Berkeley

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday July 09, 2009 - 09:43:00 AM

A 69-year-old Albany woman died early Friday afternoon when she was struck by an Amtrak passenger train near the Gilman Avenue crossing in West Berkeley. 

The Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau identified the victim Tuesday as Nancy Peterson. 

A Washington Avenue resident, Peterson was active in local politics and a volunteer for the Save Our Shoreline coalition that elected Joanne Wile and current Mayor Marge Atkinson to the Albany City Council. 

Their election spelled the end of a proposal to erect an upscale shopping center and condo complex in the Golden Gate Fields parking lot. 

A representative of the coroner’s office said the manner of death—accidental or suicide—is still under investigation. 

Peterson died after she was struck by Amtrak Capital Corridor train 535, which was headed from Sacramento to San Jose with 135 passengers. 

After an investigation at the scene, the original engineer and conductor requested relief, and a new cerw was brought on board, said Amtrak spokesperson Vernae Graham. The train continued on its way after a delay of nearly two hours, though some Berkeley-bound passengers were allowed to leave the train and walk to the city’s station near University Avenue, escorted by Amtak Police. 

“The trains can’t move until the coroner clears the scene,” Graham said. 

Just minutes later, the train struck and killed a second pedestrian in Oakland, and it was taken out of service. Passeners tansferred to another train at the 29th Street crossing, Graham said. 

A third fatality involving another Amtrak train, the Coast Starlight, occurred shortly before 9 a.m. Saturday near the Fruitvale Avenue crossing. 

The train, en route from Seattle to Los Angeles, was delayed by nearly four hours, and other trains were also delayed, though none for more than an hour, Graham said. 

A representative of the coroner’s office said he was not able to release the identities of the other two victims. Graham said her reports did not indicate the gender of the victims.