Kent man killed by Sounder train; 3rd railroad crossing death downtown this year
By STEVE HUNTER
Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter
December 2, 2011 · Updated 12:34 PM
A 46-year-old Kent man was killed by a Sounder commuter train at about 5:40 p.m. Thursday after he reportedly stepped into the path of the train at the West Meeker Street and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad crossing.
The identity of the man has not yet been release. He died at the scene.
"Warning gates and audible warning signals were working so we're not sure why the man entered the crossing," said Kent Police Lt. Pat Lowery. "The conductor in the train said the guy stepped into the path of the train. It looks like an intentional act."
Lowery said a toxicology test will be done on the man.
"We'll see if the toxicology shows if he was under the influence of anything and that may explain his actions," said Lowery, who added there was nothing to indicate the man was under the influence.
It could take anywhere from eight to 14 days before the State Patrol toxicology lab issues a report.
The train immediately stopped after the impact, blocking a number of rail crossings through the downtown area and forcing commuters to seek alternate routes around the scene, according to a police media release. The first police and fire responders were on location within 2 minutes of the incident.
Investigators from the Kent Police and Sound Transit Police collected evidence and measurements at the scene before releasing the train about an hour after the collision. The train later returned to a Sound Transit facility. Police and medical investigators remained at the scene until 8 p.m. Thursday.
Kent Police will work with the King County Medical Examiner's Office to determine if the man had any physical maladies or other conditions that may have contributed to his actions leading up to the incident.
In the train deaths earlier this year, a 58-year-old Kent man died after he was struck Aug. 5 by an Amtrak train while crossing at James Street and the BNSF tracks. A 47-year-old Kent man died May 10 when he rode his bicycle around the gates and collided with an Amtrak train at Gowe Street and the BNSF tracks.
Lowery said he was unsure the reason behind so many train deaths this year. The man who died in the May incident was the first person killed by a train in Kent since a 17-year-old girl was killed in April 2008 crossing the tracks while talking on a cellphone.
Ten people have been killed by trains in Kent over the last 14 years, according to the state Utilities and Transportation Commission website.
There was nothing unusual or unique in the toxicology reports connected with the May or August incidents, Lowery said.
"Part of it is we get a lot of people who choose to go around the gates," Lowery said. "They think they can get by or they think it's clear because on train passes and don't think about the train coming in the opposite direction."
Kent railroad crossing deaths in 2011
May 10: 47-year-old male bicyclist rode around flashing lights and lowered gates and was struck by Amtrak passenger train at Gowe Street crossing. Incident occurred on the BNSF Northwest Division (Seattle Subdivision) at milepost 16.34.
Aug. 5: Male pedestrian struck by Amtrak passenger train while crossing tracks at the James Street crossing in Kent. Flashing lights were operating and gates were lowered. Incident occurred on the BNSF Northwest Division (Seattle Subdivision) at milepost 15.4.
Dec. 1: 46-year-old male pedestrian killed by Sounder commuter train while crossing around gates and flashing lights at West Meeker Street and BNSF tracks.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-872-6600, ext. 5052.