Driver killed in Menlo Park Caltrain accident was trapped on tracks

MENLO PARK, Calif. (KTVU) -- New information surfaced Tuesday about how a driver who was stuck in traffic and trapped on railroad tracks was hit and killed by an oncoming Caltrain in Menlo Park early Monday evening.

Late Tuesday afternoon, KTVU received new video from a viewer that was taken just moments after the fatal crash happened.

The woman who was killed was boxed in and had no way to go to get out of the train's path.

Work crews spent much of Tuesday replacing the gate and fixing damaged poles at the Ravenswood Avenue Caltrain crossing in Menlo Park where a Caltrain struck a car stuck on the tracks just before 5 p.m. Monday evening.

The car flew 40 feet upon impact. The driver, described as a 35-year-old woman, was taken to Stanford Hospital where she later died. 

On Tuesday night, Caltrain released the name of the woman killed in Menlo Park Monday when her SUV got stuck on the tracks was hit by a train.

The woman was identified as 35-year-old Jennifer Jahyun of East Palo Alto.

KTVU spoke with accident witness Jennifer Jones, who was stopped at the crossing facing Jahyun. She said the victim seemed trapped on the tracks with nowhere to go.

Jones said the woman was looking down and appeared not to realize a train was coming.

"I was about to get out and wave my arms to get her attention, but it was too late," Jones said.

People who work near the train crossings say the intersection is often crowded and confusing.

"Many times I have tried to get through the intersection and it's like, 'Can I go? No. Is it safe? I've been sitting here for five minutes almost,'" said Sandy Gregory, who works nearby.

"When the train comes, cars are already nervous. Trying to stay off the tracks or get to the other side. A pedestrian will get in the way. There is just too much going on," said another woman who declined to give her name.

But changes are likely coming to the crosswalk. The Menlo Park Public Works Director told KTVU the city has received funding to design a different crossing, one that most likely will have the street run underneath the tracks.

"Until that time, everyone should know never stop on a train track. If you are not clear to proceed, don't enter the rail crossing," said Caltrain spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann.

A new crossing is still more than two years away, but once it is installed, it should prevent the kind of accident that occurred at the track crossing Monday.

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