(Dana Point, California – April 16, 2018)
A Lake Elsinore, CA couple, vacationing at a Dana Point, CA campground, found themselves in harm’s way as they walked near Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink) tracks that pass through Dana Point. The husband of 37 years was killed as he heroically shoved his wife out of the path of a Metrolink train as it bore down upon them with virtually no warning. The tragedy occurred at about 4:00 P.M., PDT Monday afternoon and involved Metrolink train 609, which was traveling from Oceanside to Los Angeles with 64 passengers on board.
Ernest Gibson, 71, pushed Jacqueline Gibson from the path of one of the 42 Metrolink commuter, Amtrak passenger and BNSF freight trains that roll through the corridor at speeds as high as 90 mph, saving her life as he sacrificed his own. The couple had detoured across the tracks to avoid a transient encampment located below an underpass.
The pair first checked carefully for signs of any oncoming rail traffic before they crossed. But precaution wasn’t enough as the last thing Mrs. Gibson heard before she felt a shove was her husband crying out “The train! Run!” as the train emitted a single blast of its horn only a second before it struck Ernest.
Speaking to Staff Writer Jonathan Winslow of The Orange County Register, Jacqueline wondered why it was so easy for pedestrians to access an area Metrolink officials called “restricted”, as well as why the train’s warning horn was not sounded until escape was impossible.
Mrs. Gibson told Winslow that she wondered “why there’s no indication that the area was off limits – no signs, no security, no fences.”
“I’m so mad they don’t have fences up on that side. They put them on the beach side, but not where they tell everybody to walk. Then they call it a ‘restricted area’”!
The tragic death marked at least the fourth pedestrian fatality to be suffered in the Dana Point corridor since 2004.