Another crash at troubled rail crossing

A car crashed into a pole at the Ravenswood Avenue railroad crossing in Menlo Park, slowing down trains and flattening a road sign. Photo by Post reader Jim Lewis.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Menlo Park’s Ravenswood Avenue train crossing is once again an accident scene — just three days after City Council decided how it wanted to separate the street from the tracks, an issue that has been debated for decades.

The new bridges council approved won’t be built for years, but yesterday (Jan. 18), for the third time in three years, a motorist crashed at the crossing.

At 9:27 a.m., a Palo Alto woman headed east on Ravenswood jumped the curb and drove onto the sidewalk, hitting a pole and flattening it, according to police Cpl. Jeff Cooley.

Then her car hit a yellow pedestrian gate, and bounced across the track into the pole that holds the crossing arm at the corner of Alma Street and eastbound Ravenswood, Cooley said.

The woman, who also had a 2-year-old in the car, did not appear to be drunk or on drugs, Cooley said. It is possible that she had a medical problem.

The woman and child were taken to the hospital to make sure both were OK, but neither had visible injuries, Cooley said.

No trains or other cars were involved in the accident, but the incident did cause some trains to be delayed.

This accident occurred just days after the Menlo Park City Council decided to go forward with three bridges separating Ravenswood, Glenwood and Oak Grove avenues from the train tracks.

Other accidents on tracks

The Ravenswood crossing has seen its fair share of accidents — both fatal and narrow misses — over the years, sparking the council in 2015 to seriously discuss the rail bridges.

On Feb. 23, 2015, Jahyun Jennifer Koo, 35, of Palo Alto, died when she became trapped between a railroad gate and a car stopped by traffic in front of her.

Her death resulted in a lawsuit against Caltrain, San Mateo County and the city of Menlo Park. Koo’s widower withdrew the lawsuit in 2016 and did not receive any money from Caltrain or the city of Menlo Park.

On Oct. 23, a woman in her 30s was nearly killed after her car was hit by a Caltrain after she got stuck on the tracks the same way Koo did. Witnesses told firefighters that the train lifted the car off the ground.

The car was thrown into the air and landed parallel with the train tracks. The woman was still in the car during the entire incident. The woman was taken to Stanford Hospital for neck and back pains, but she survived.

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