Woman walking on railroad struck, killed by train

MARTINEZ, Calif. – A woman walking on railroad tracks in Martinez near where Jenna Betti was killed by a train five years ago was struck and killed by a BNSF freight train about 6:20 p.m. Saturday.

Liliana Alam, 32, of Martinez, is the deceased according to BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent.

The site, near Old Orchard and Howe roads, is not a railroad crossing, according to a statement by Lena Kent, BNSF director of public affairs for Arizona and California. Passenger trains don’t run on those tracks.

Investigation of the accident forced the railroad to halt train traffic between Stockton and Richmond.

This is the second railroad-related fatality in Martinez this year. A woman identified as Marolyn Sullivan died about 7:05 p.m. April 23 as she walked on the Union Pacific Railroad tracks when the Amtrak 718 San Joaquin train, heading from Oakland to Bakersfield, struck her.

She was described as walking on a “forbidden” area of the tracks east of Interstate-680 when the accident happened. No passengers or crewmembers was harmed.

The stretch of railroad where the woman died Saturday is not far from where Betti, 14, died March 2, 2014.

In that accident, Betty was on the tracks with a boyfriend when they were alerted by the oncoming train’s horn. Initially, both left, but Betti returned to retrieve a dropped cell phone and was struck.

Mourners have maintained a memorial to the teenager’s death, and her family founded #hersmile, a nonprofit that distributes grants to families who have experienced a tragic loss or other adversities.

BNSF, rather than Martinez Police Department, is handling the investigation, but Chief Manjit Sappal had several recommendations for those near railroads.

“No one should walk on or near any tracks outside of crossing areas,” he said. “The trains are moving quickly and cannot stop, so being on or near the tracks is extremely risky. Doing so is dangerous enough and is further exacerbated when one is distracted with headphones or a phone.”

He said taking care as a pedestrian applies in other situations, too. “The same would apply as a pedestrian on the roadway,” he said. “People have to be cognizant of their surroundings at all times.”

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