On May 4 at around 1:00 in the afternoon, a southbound trolley hit a man who, according to a trolley engineer, “leaped out of a palm tree” located adjacent to the tracks. The victim turned out to be a Caltrans employee on a landscape crew.
After striking the victim, the trolley stopped near the overpass on 18th Avenue, about an eighth of a mile north of the 24th Street trolley station in National City. About 12 emergency workers and a half dozen police squad cars arrived at the scene. An ambulance arrived but got stuck between the tracks and couldn’t get out under its own power.
A witness in the neighborhood said that he was driving toward the overpass when he saw the trolley try to stop suddenly, the wheels screaming against the rails. A woman in the neighborhood heard the brakes shrieking from her house two blocks away. Police were reluctant to give details of what had happened.
The following northbound train (on which this reporter was traveling) came to a stop before the 24th Street station, and passengers were informed that there had been an accident and the trolley would proceed no further. Shuttle buses arrived to take passengers to the next station.
Just after the incident, no details regarding the victim’s condition were available from witnesses, but the neighborhood woman said the overpass area was a popular camping area for transients, one of whom was sleeping under the bridge, seemingly oblivious to what had occurred on the tracks directly over him.
Later, other media reported that the 64-year-old Caltrans worker died at the hospital due to major head trauma.