random thoughts on railroad photography, railfanning, technology, and such

Entries in Senseless (1)


Looking for Solutions to Prevent Frequent and Avoidable Tragedies

Yet another senseless and tragic incident involving individuals being struck and killed by a passing train occurred Saturday morning in the city of Rosemead, California.

According to news reports, two young adults were, according to claims of those involved, apparently “sleeping” on the tracks when they were run over by a 71-car westbound Union Pacific train doing reportedly 50 miles per hour.

The men were identified by coroner officials as Aaron Gallardo and Richard Haro, both whom are 19 and live in Rosemead.

My deepest sympathies go out to all affected by this tragic event, including the families and friends of the two men, and to the crew of the Union Pacific train.

However, I am frustrated and angered that this incident occurred at all.  This type of event seems real frequent, especially in southern California. Something has to be done to educate and inform the public of the risks of trespassing onto railroad property.

I found two videos from local news stations that show coverage of the incident in question.  This first one is from ABC 7:


This next video is from CBS 2 in Los Angeles and looks like it was filmed the next day:


Based on the reports it appears that the men might have been drinking prior to the incident and subsequently passed out on the tracks. My question is what were they thinking?  I am not sure that they were, clearly.

All railroads tracks and right-of-ways are private property and for good reason. The safety of the public can not be guaranteed when individuals chose to break laws by trespassing and putting themselves in harm’s way.

I know that people use the right-of-ways as a means to traverse the area but that doesn’t make it right - or safe.  Had the two men not been on the right-of-way at all then, perhaps, that might have passed out, in that in fact is what happened, on a sidewalk or yard instead. But they didn’t…

As you can see in the second video, the obviously grief-stricken friends of the victims are also trespassing by sitting on the rails and placing a memorial near the scene. Seriously, is this the best thing to do? Perhaps there were officials nearby and the tracks were closed, but nonetheless it is more of the same careless behaviors.

I don’t know if the public is aware of the toll that an incident like this has on the train crew involved. Who among us was to cause the death of another individual while we are doing our jobs? It can end some careers of engineers and conductors alike due to the physiological trauma sustained in any collision-based event. There is nothing the train crew can do to prevent the tragedy that fell before them.

What can we do as a society to educate all that the right-of-ways are not a place to gather and/or use as a thoroughfare?  I am at a loss. This doesn’t seem to help:



Here is a excerpt from Wikipedia.org on railroad trespassing:

It is usually illegal to arrest a trespasser and hold them on the property until law enforcement arrives as this defeats the purpose of allowing them to cure the trespass by leaving. This is excepted by US states that have citizen arrest laws; CA being one. A large exception to this rule is railroads in the United States and Canada, who employ their own police forces to enforce state or provincial trespassing laws. Railroad police have the ability to independently arrest and prosecute trespassers without the approval or assistance of local law enforcement. Furthermore, in many jurisdictions, trespassing on railroad tracks is considered a very severe offense comparable to drunk driving, with severe fines imposed on the trespassers. Some jurisdictions even go so far as to impose fines higher than that of a drunk driving or marijuana possession conviction. 


If you have any ideas please post them as a comment.