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Western Railroad Discussion > Fresno City College student killed by BNSF


Date: 09/13/01 15:14
Fresno City College student killed by BNSF
Author: tjb

A student and member of the Fresno City College football team was killed around noon today here in Fresno at the Weldon Ave crossing and entrance to FCC. No further details available at this time but a press conference is being held at 5:00p at FCC.

Fresno City College is a two year (JC) institution that has over 23, 000 students and as many as 7000 students each day cross those tracks at that intersection on their way to/from their classes. It is one of the most dangerous and well traveled grad level crossings here in Fresno.


More later



Date: 09/13/01 15:17
RE: Fresno City College student killed by BNSF
Author: cep500

Taking nothing away from the fact that a life was tragically lost, I don't think it's fair to say the student was "killed by BNSF." I doubt BNSF was responsible for the actions that led to his death.



Date: 09/13/01 15:49
RE: Fresno City College student killed by BNSF
Author: tjb

cep500 wrote:
>
> Taking nothing away from the fact that a life was tragically
> lost, I don't think it's fair to say the student was "killed by
> BNSF." I doubt BNSF was responsible for the actions that led to
> his death.


In all due respect to your opinion, I don't think that saying he was "killed by BNSF" indicates in any way, shape, or form that BNSF was responsible and that was not my intention.

I would have liked to have had room on the subject line to say "Fresno City College student killed by BNSF train while crossing tracks," would that have been better? Just didn't have room.

I have no doubt that BNSF was not at fault but you can't escape the fact that it was a BNSF train that hit and killed the student, regardless of whose fault it was.



Date: 09/13/01 16:18
RE: Fresno City College student killed by BNSF
Author: craigjp

sighs............looks like someone was not aware where they were...STOP,LOOK and Listen right?



Date: 09/13/01 17:51
RE: Fresno City College student killed by BNSF
Author: tjb

My humble apologies, my initial info that came from a local TV reporter was that it was a BNSF freight when, in fact, it was one of the Amtraks that run in the Central Valley on the BNSF right of way. There were two students trying to beat the train, one did and the other one didn't.

Sad testimonial!



Date: 09/13/01 18:35
RE: Fresno City College student killed by BNSF
Author: braska

STOP LOOK LISTEN: My respect for the deceased but I believe crossing accidnets are every 90 minutes (I Know the time is wrong but I do know someone will correct me). Trying to beat the train-how often do we here that one.



Date: 09/13/01 19:42
RE: Fresno City College student killed by BNSF
Author: BNSF4963

Do you by chance know the the train #. I know it doesent matter what the # of the train but the only reason I ask is becouse my uncle is an engineer for Amtrak between Sacramento and Bakersfield. 702,703. This is an unforunate event and should have never happened.

BNSF4963



Date: 09/13/01 20:23
RE: Fresno City College student killed by BNSF
Author: brettrw

What's seems worse is trying to beat an Amtrak. It only takes a few seconds anyway. Wow, a little patience would go a long way in this world.

Brett Wirick
http://www.trainweb.org/brettrw/



Date: 09/13/01 20:41
RE: Fresno City College student killed by BNSF
Author: tjb

BNSF4963 wrote:
>
> Do you by chance know the the train #. I know it doesent matter
> what the # of the train but the only reason I ask is becouse my
> uncle is an engineer for Amtrak between Sacramento and
> Bakersfield. 702,703. This is an unforunate event and should
> have never happened.
>
> BNSF4963

I do not know the train number only because I don't know the direction. Amtrak has a SB that goes through Fresno around 11:15 and a NB at 11:45 the accident according to the news occured at 12:15p and could have been either one. Based on this schedule, it was either 712 or 713. (Unless NB 711 or SB 702 were terribly delayed)



Date: 09/14/01 00:18
RE: Fresno City College student killed by BNSF
Author: boxcarrick

I think we missed the point--the student had to have been on or near the track to be struck by the train. Trains don't chase people down the street to hit them--to be injured or killed by a train, you have to be where you have no business--in the path of the train. To say that the BSNF "killed" this student is unfair. The engineer and the BNSF would rather have the student use a sidewalk than the tracks. I have taught the Operation Lifesaver message for 14 years and I have to say that it has been my experience in the 33 years of railroading I have, that trains only hurt or kill people that do not respect them. I had a young man today walking on the "I" Street bridge in Sacramento as we were making a reverse move. He did not know that there were two other trains approaching from his rear. I told him and he immediately ran to the other end. But, what if I had not told him--Would he have made it across safely??? Point is, stay off railroad tracks when the train is coming or is near. Never guess!! Just my opinion! Thanks!tjb wrote:
>
> cep500 wrote:
> >
> > Taking nothing away from the fact that a life was tragically
> > lost, I don't think it's fair to say the student was "killed
> by
> > BNSF." I doubt BNSF was responsible for the actions that led
> to
> > his death.
>
>
> In all due respect to your opinion, I don't think that saying
> he was "killed by BNSF" indicates in any way, shape, or form
> that BNSF was responsible and that was not my intention.
>
> I would have liked to have had room on the subject line to say
> "Fresno City College student killed by BNSF train while
> crossing tracks," would that have been better? Just didn't
> have room.
>
> I have no doubt that BNSF was not at fault but you can't escape
> the fact that it was a BNSF train that hit and killed the
> student, regardless of whose fault it was.



Date: 09/14/01 00:20
RE: Fresno City College student killed by BNSF
Author: boxcarrick

It was NOT the Amtrak 702 or 703. It was the Amtrak 712.BNSF4963 wrote:
>
> Do you by chance know the the train #. I know it doesent matter
> what the # of the train but the only reason I ask is becouse my
> uncle is an engineer for Amtrak between Sacramento and
> Bakersfield. 702,703. This is an unforunate event and should
> have never happened.
>
> BNSF4963



Date: 09/14/01 09:29
RE: Fresno City College student killed by BNSF
Author: tjb

boxcarrick wrote:
>
> I think we missed the point--the student had to have been on or
> near the track to be struck by the train.

Looks like our local paper missed the point as well then, look at their headline! I said it before, I'll say it again, the train killed the student! Of course the student was crossing the tracks when he shouldn't have been and it cost him his life!! Case closed!

=====================================
From the Fresno Bee Sept 14, 2001

Train kills student

Death renews protest against on-campus tracks.
By Matthew Kreamer, Ken Robison
The Fresno Bee
(Published Friday, September, 14, 2001 3:45AM)

A Fresno City College football player, apparently trying to cross on-campus tracks in front of a speeding Amtrak train, was hit and killed in front of dozens of witnesses Thursday afternoon.
Junior Puletapuai, 20, a freshman offensive lineman from Anchorage, Alaska, died at the scene of the 12:13 p.m. accident. Witnesses said Puletapuai and his two cousins, also FCC students, were running toward the railroad tracks at Weldon Avenue. The cousins stopped but Puletapuai tried to cross, said football coach Tony Caviglia.

The crossing arms were down and warning lights were flashing at the time of Puletapuai's fatal crossing attempt, witnesses said.

"I saw him go for it and the train was already in the intersection. I didn't know he was hit until I saw his body fly," said student Adriana Soto, 18.

Puletapuai, 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 330 pounds, was thrown to the ground east of the tracks, about 40 yards south of Weldon Avenue. The train stopped on the tracks, which run through the campus, between Weldon and McKinley avenues.

As State Center Community College District and Fresno police investigated the accident, distraught teammates of Puletapuai gathered in the locker room near Ratcliffe Stadium. Many were crying; all appeared shocked.

Teammates Caleb Bravo and Franco Porter sat crying on a curb outside the school's locker room.

Bravo had been with Puletapuai before leaving for lunch Thursday. When Bravo returned, his friend was dead.

"He was a great guy, kindhearted and gentle," Bravo said.

Teammate Pete Hingano said Puletapuai and his cousins -- Rocky Faga and Kalani Taamilo -- were on their way to lunch. Witnesses said Faga and Taamilo stopped before the tracks and yelled at Puletapuai not to try to cross.

After the accident, Faga and Taamilo ran to Caviglia's office and told the coach what happened. Later, as players filed into the fieldhouse for football practice, they were met with grim news.

"I went home for lunch and then came back for practice," said offensive lineman James Martin, a sophomore from Clovis West High School. "The gates were locked up and I wondered, 'What's going on?' Then I walked in and everybody was looking down. Eyes were red.

"I didn't believe it at first. It was heartbreak. Everybody was crying."

Martin and offensive line teammate Charles Goldman of Dos Palos remembered Puletapuai was always singing spiritual songs, always laughing and joking.

"Junior was a happy-go-lucky guy," Caviglia said. "And he had a great singing voice."

As City College's biggest player, Puletapuai had a lot of potential, Caviglia said. He wasn't destined to see much action this season because he was inexperienced after just one year of high-school football.

"His dream was to play in the NFL," Caviglia said. "He was 6-3, 330 [pounds] with the feet of a ballerina. He was doing so well."

Teammate Hingano, a native of Tonga, shared a cultural bond with Puletapuai, a Samoan. They were two of the team's brotherhood of Polynesian players.

"The third day [in Fresno] he wanted to go back home," said Hingano, whose family lives in Sanger. "I took him to my house and he said, 'I feel like I'm back home already.'"

Thursday afternoon, Hingano said his father Siosifa, a Methodist minister, addressed the team.

"My dad said, 'Now you guys have got 12 on the field. Eleven men and one spirit.' "

Thursday afternoon, City College players voted unanimously to play Saturday night's game in honor of their fallen teammate. The Rams leave today for Weed, where they play College of Siskiyous on Saturday.

Puletapuai's former coach at Anchorage West High School said the big lineman was "family-oriented, had a huge heart, a passion for life and was real close to God."

"It just breaks my heart," Anchorage West coach Bob Garman said. "I don't understand things in life."

Puletapuai moved with his family to Anchorage from Hawaii before his junior year of high school.

Garman said he pressured Puletapuai to go to college. After taking a year off, the lineman moved to Fresno to become a Ram.

"He was very gifted athletically," Garman said. "I knew his potential and I knew if they walked him on he'd get a scholarship somewhere."

State Center Police Chief Marvin Reyes said students are struck by trains at the Weldon crossing far too often.

Every day, he said, dozens of students run to beat the trains after the warning arms have come down.

"There have been probably three pedestrian versus train accidents here in the past three years," Reyes said.

"It doesn't happen at McKinley and it doesn't happen at Clinton. It happens here where we have thousands of students crossing each day."

Forty trains cross the campus each day. Thirty are freight trains and 10 are Amtrak passenger trains.

Part of the problem, Reyes said, is that freight trains roll at moderate speeds through the campus while Amtrak often rumbles through at 70 mph.

Because of the difference, it's easy for students to misjudge the speed of the trains, he said.

"It takes your breath away when you stand nearby when the Amtrak trains come through," Reyes said. "It's terrifying."

It isn't clear how fast the train that struck Puletapuai was traveling. An Amtrak official did not return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.

The Weldon Avenue crossing is notorious enough that police and state officials used it as the backdrop at a February news conference to announce the kickoff of a rail-safety ad campaign.

Crossing tracks on foot while gates are down is illegal and can result in a $103 fine. Crossing in a car can bring drivers a $271 fine.

At a news conference dealing with the death of Puletapuai, Fresno Area Residents for Rail Consolidation renewed their campaign to move the tracks that run through the campus.

State Center Community College District Chancellor Judith Redwine said the college has not built an overpass because students hurrying to class would not use it. "Young people are going to do what young people do," she said.

Caviglia, admitting this was the most difficult week he could remember, noted a cruel irony after a summer of heat-related incidents.

"We prepare players for the risk of football, but how do you prepare for the tragedy of getting hit by a train?"

The reporters can be reached at mkreamer@fresnobee.com, krobison@fresnobee.com or 441-6330. Bee columnist John Canzano contributed to this report.



Date: 09/14/01 10:35
RE: FCC student killed by his own stupidity
Author: Goatboat

tjb, please check your TO e-mail.



Date: 09/14/01 15:31
RE: FCC student killed by his own stupidity
Author: tjb

Goatboat

Stupidity never killed anyone, it has however, caused many people to get themselves killed. That is the case here. Stupidity allowed the studemt to ignore the crossing arms, the flashing lights, the blaring train horn and the clanging bell try and beat a lousy five car passenger train to save himself maybe 15 or 20 seconds.

Make no mistake however, it was the train that killed him.

Ironically, this is the same crossing where Operation Lifesaver held it's press conference last February to announce their new ad campaign.



Date: 09/14/01 16:10
RE: FCC student killed by his own stupidity
Author: Goatboat

tjb wrote:
>
> Goatboat
>
> Stupidity never killed anyone, it has however, caused many
> people to get themselves killed. That is the case here.
> Stupidity allowed the studemt to ignore the crossing arms, the
> flashing lights, the blaring train horn and the clanging bell
> try and beat a lousy five car passenger train to save himself
> maybe 15 or 20 seconds.
>
> Make no mistake however, it was the train that killed him.
>
> Ironically, this is the same crossing where Operation Lifesaver
> held it's press conference last February to announce their new
> ad campaign.

Tom, we'll have to agree to disagree. You aren't a trial lawyer, are you?

By the way, nice graphics on your website.



Date: 09/14/01 17:58
RE: FCC student killed by his own stupidity
Author: stevelv

I do not think tjb intentionally used that headline. However, newspapers constantly posts headlines such as "Train kills family of four at crossing" This gives railroads a black eye in the eyes of the general public when probably 99% of crossing accidents are caused by the stupidity of one person.



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