Man comes down from VTA train after 12 hours

Image 1 of 2

After nearly 12 hours of being on the top of a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light-rail vehicle in North San Jose, a 25-year-old man on probation finally came down this afternoon.

Shortly after 1 p.m., Prunedale resident Kyle Lewis went down from the train at North First Street just south of Component Drive, Santa Clara County sheriff's Sgt. James Jensen said.

The man had climbed up the VTA vehicle around 1:20 a.m., Jensen said.

The incident caused major delays throughout the system through the morning and into the early afternoon. Transit agency officials are checking the top of the train to make sure everything is OK before they turn the electricity back on, VTA spokeswoman Stacey Hendler Ross said.

It can take up to 30 minutes to power up the lines before service resumes, Hendler Ross said.   

Earlier this morning, the vehicle operator was heading back to the transit agency's Guadalupe maintenance yard after ending service for the night and stopped after seeing someone on the rail line, Hendler Ross said.

The operator then called the VTA operations control center to turn off the overhead electrical wires that generate 900 volts to stop the man from getting electrocuted as he went up the train, Hendler Ross said.

"It's an extremely dangerous thing for someone to do to climb up the train because of the electrification," she said.

Sheriff's deputies with crisis training immediately responded to the scene and initially spoke with Lewis before a crisis negotiation team arrived, Jensen said.

The team talked to Lewis from a cherry picker parked next to the train and others are on the platform adjacent to the vehicle, where two ladders were propped on the sides.

Lewis had been rambling and spitting at authorities when they first talked to him, but eventually became more "coherent," Jensen said.

Lewis was shirtless and negotiators gave him a yellow blanket, Jensen said.

A mental health supervisor from the Santa Clara County Probation Department also came out to scene to speak to Lewis, he said.

Negotiators worked with probation supervisors to learn more about Lewis' background to build "rapport" with him and persuaded him to go down, according to Jensen.

Investigators did not immediately know if Lewis was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Jensen said.

The disruption resulted in a shutdown of 50 percent of the light-rail system, Hendler Ross said.

The incident stopped trains from traveling north of the intersection, a major thoroughfare for the system to provide train service between the Mountain View and Baypointe stations, she said.

Bus shuttles were set up to take passengers along the affected area of the line.