Local

Fresno family seeks answers in fatal train accident

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Virginia Palomino, 53, died when police say a train clipped her as she crossed the tracks with a friend.

Family members have left candles in honor of Virginia Palomino. Loved ones say she was on her way home Wednesday night and was taking a shortcut. Her nephews saw her right before she was hit.

Julian and Phillip Gonzales watched Thursday as a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train passed in the same direction it did Wednesday when two people were hit. Their aunt, Virginia Palomino was killed.

The boys are especially upset because moments before the accident they saw Virginia at a convenience store.

Julian said, "Yesterday me and my friend were going down Van Ness and we happened to see my aunt, so I said, hi Virginia, and like 10 minutes later she got hit by a train, and that's it."

The boys never thought that would be the last memory they would have of her. They lost track of her as she walked down the tracks heading home.

Julian added, "She was walking, having a good time with her boyfriend, Richard and then as it got more down the tracks, it happened."

Ciara Gonzales lives steps away from the tracks. She knew something bad happened after she heard the train come to a stop. She said, "I didn't think much of it but I started hearing a man like screaming and kinda like crying in agonizing pain, so I already knew somebody got hit, so I called the police, like right away."

Investigators from BNSF took measurements of the scene Thursday morning. A spokesperson for the railroad said the line was shut down for just over two hours. The closure delayed four trains, and two of them were Amtrak.

Neighbors say the trains pass often, and it's not uncommon to see pedestrians darting on and off the tracks. The path is popular for people who like to exercise and also kids who ride their bikes.

Those who witnessed the fatal crash say the couple had to have heard the train coming toward them. Why they were on the tracks is a lingering question for Virginia's family.

Julian said, "Why was she on the tracks in the first place? She should've just walked on the sidewalk- this would've never happened."

The other person hit, was injured but is expected to survive. He will also be interviewed about the circumstances that led to the accident.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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