Deputy pulls driver to safety moments before Caltrain crash

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (KTVU &  Wires) - A driver who narrowly missed being struck by a Caltrain in Sunnyvale Monday night has been cited on suspicion of drunk driving and other offenses in connection with multiple crashes, authorities said Tuesday.

The driver, identified today as Nelson Gomez, 20, was pulled from his vehicle by San Mateo County sheriff's Deputy Lance Whitted around 6:35 p.m. Monday, moments before the car was struck by a train near Mary and West Evelyn avenues, according to sheriff's spokesman Salvador Zuno.

Whitted and Deputy Erik Rueppel, who are both assigned to the transit bureau, were patrolling near the Caltrain tracks when they heard a traffic crash, Zuno said.

They saw a vehicle had struck one of the traffic posts at the Caltrain crossing and ran to assist.

The vehicle, which was blocking the northbound tracks, had significant damage and the driver appeared to be under the influence, Zuno said.

A northbound train was approaching and Rueppel tried to flag it down, but it couldn't slow down in time. Whitted forcibly pulled the uncooperative driver from the vehicle moments before the train struck the car, Zuno said.

Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Capt. Jeff Hunter today said Gomez appears to have been involved in at least one other crash Monday night in the area of Bernardo and Evelyn avenues prior to the one on the tracks.

Gomez suffered minor injuries in the crash on the tracks and was taken to Stanford Hospital for treatment. He has been cited on suspicion of driving under the influence, hit-and-run, driving without a license and a probation violation, Hunter said.

The incident resulted in delays of up to 45 minutes as trains single-tracked through the area. Both tracks reopened for service by 7:45 p.m., according to Ackemann.