Deadly panic of 87-year-old stuck on train tracks in wheelchair scooter

Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train, not the train in the story. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

An 87-year-old man whose motorized wheelchair got stuck on railroad tracks in downtown Riverside was struck and killed by a freight train Thursday.

The fatality happened about 10 a.m. at the Third Street pedestrian and vehicle crossing over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks just south of the Riverside (91) Freeway.

“It appears the victim might have been a transient,” Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback told City News Service. “He was in one of those little Rascal scooters, and it just got stuck when he tried to go over the tracks. He was trying to loosen it, but couldn’t move.”

An eastbound freight train conductor saw the stranded senior, “blared his horn and tried to slow down,” but he wasn’t able to get the locomotive stopped in time, Railsback said.

The collision instantly killed the victim, whose identity was not immediately released, according to the Riverside Fire Department.

The rail line was shut down for about an hour until a coroner’s investigation was completed.

The area where the accident occurred was also the scene of a grisly train-versus-auto collision on Nov. 1, 2007. Two young women — Renee Ammari and Tanya Sayegh — had left a Halloween party at nearby Cafe Sevilla and meandered onto the tracks, becoming stuck in Ammari’s Honda Passport, which was hit several minutes later by a mile-long Union Pacific Railroad freight train, killing both women.

More than 130 trains transit Riverside daily, according to the mayor’s office.

–City News Service