Update, Sept. 13: The two men who were struck and killed by an Amtrak train Thursday night had been living in encampments around University Avenue and had been evicted from their tents this week, according to Andrea Henson, an advocate who has been working with them.
One of the men, with a nickname of Jupiter, had been living by the Seabreeze Market and Deli at 598 University Ave., she said. Caltrans cleared out an encampment there on Thursday. The other man, known as Fixie, had been living at the “Downstairs” encampment by the University Avenue overpass, she said. Caltrans had cleared that encampment Wednesday.
Barbara Brust, another longtime advocate for those without permanent shelter, said that it had been very hot Thursday and the people evicted from their tents this week had no shelter and no access to water. They were also under tremendous stress, which may have contributed to their decision to cross the train tracks when they did, she said.
“I can’t imagine you would have two people crossing the tracks in their best of minds making that mistake,” said Brust. “They were not at their peak performance.”
The Alameda County coroner’s office is not releasing the men’s names yet. The office has identified one victim but still needs to notify next of kin. The other man had not been officially identified as of 9 a.m., according to a spokeswoman.
Update, Sept. 13: Amtrak spokeswoman told Berkeleyside that train 717 “struck a trespasser in Berkeley at approximately 8:10 pm. There were no reported injuries to the 22 passengers or crew.” Passengers were put on buses and sent to Oakland or Emeryville, she said.
Original story: Two people were struck and killed by a train Thursday night, according to Berkeley Police Lt. Dave Lindenau.
Officials from Amtrak, which runs trains through the East Bay, called police at 8:15 p.m. to report that two people had been hit, said Lindenau. The incident happened by the Amtrak station at University Avenue between Fourth Street and Second Street, he said.
Lindenau did not have more information about the people killed as railroad investigators are handling the matter, he said.
The Berkeley Fire Department also responded to the call, according to Brian Harryman, the on-duty battalion chief for BFD. Fire officials talked to the train driver, who had brought the train to a stop on the tracks near Bancroft Way and Fourth Street. The engineer knew he had struck the people and said it took him a quarter-mile to stop the train.
“We don’t know where they came from,” said Harryman. “We don’t even know the direction they were walking on the tracks when they were struck.”
Amtrak put out this message on Twitter about its San Joaquins line:
ALERT: Train 717 is currently stopped outside of Emeryville (EMY) due to a trespasser incident. Updates to follow as more information becomes available. #SanJoaquins— Amtrak San Joaquins (@SanJoaquins) September 13, 2019
The Capital Corridor account put out this message on Twitter:
ALERT: Train 550 may experience delays between Emeryville (EMY) and Berkeley (BKY) due to emergency personnel near the tracks. #CapitolCorridor— Capitol Corridor (@CapitolCorridor) September 13, 2019
Editor’s note: This article originally stated that Berkeleyside was reaching out to Union Pacific RR for information. It was updated Sept. 14 to include Amtrak’s original tweet about the incident.