(Martinez, California – June 15, 2019)
The City of Martinez, which has been known for its numerous pedestrian versus train tragedies, sustained another preventable tragedy Saturday afternoon. A 32-year-old adult female died at about 6:20 PM, PDT Saturday afternoon when she was struck by a BNSF Railway freight train near the area of Old Orchard and Howe Roads in Martinez, CA.
This time, the victim was Lilianna Alam of Martinez. Ms. Alam became the second individual this year to die on local Contra Costa County railroad tracks. Marolyn Sampson, also of Martinez, died when she was struck by a Bakersfield-bound Amtrak San Joachim passenger train traveling on Union Pacific rails April 23 about 7:05 PM, PDT this year.
Saturday’s tragedy brought back bitter memories of the tragic death five years ago where on March 2, 2014, teenager Jenna Betti was struck by another BNSF train. Betti died after she tried to retrieve a cell phone she had unintentionally dropped after she and her boy friend had left the area where the tragic death was suffered.
Betti’s friends and family have continued to maintain a memorial near the site of the tragedy, and even set up a non-profit victim assistance website (#hersmile).
Post-accident concerns over a need for fencing in the area to seal off pedestrian access were documented in Martinez City Council records after the 2014 fatality. Now, with little to no change provided, another life has been lost on the single track rail corridor. The tracks accommodate as many as 26 BNSF trains daily at a maximum allowable speed of 45 mph.
Whether the city’s ruling body or the railroad will revisit the area of rail safety concern and finally install much needed public safety fencing is not known at this time.