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Family of man killed by Amtrak train at trolley stop files claim

Government says Zheng “darted out from behind a wall

Washington Street trolley stop in Middletown
Washington Street trolley stop in Middletown

The family of a 79-year-old Chinese immigrant who was struck and killed by a speeding Amtrak train near Little Italy in February of this year has filed legal claims against MTS, the city and county.

The claims, which I obtained through a public records request, were filed on behalf of the man, Wentian Zheng, his wife who witnessed the accident, and another family member.

According to the claim and news reports, Wentian Zheng and his family were returning from Zheng’s first immigration interview on February 18, just after 4 pm. They exited the trolley at Washington Street in Middletown, and crossed in front of the trolley on their way to catch a bus. As he crossed the southbound track, an Amtrak train traveling at nearly 50 miles per hour struck and killed Zheng.

According to the claim, it was the second time a person had died at that location by an Amtrak train since 2014.

The multiple deaths at the location, alleges the legal notice, shows that local transit and municipal employees failed to address what was a dangerous condition for pedestrians.

“The city of San Diego had actual and constructive notice regarding prior complaints and the requirement to have additional safety features, signage, maintenance, and repairs at the subject location,” reads the July 20, 2020 legal claim. “Unfortunately, the city chose to not follow the requirements, and allowed the subject location to remain in a dangerous condition.”

Attorneys for the Zheng family claim local transportation officials had been aware that signs had been posted at the location after the 2014 pedestrian fatality. They were, according to the claim, ineffective and the timing of the trolley stop and the departing Amtrak trains presented significant public safety issues.

“...This signage did not resolve the safety issues with the subject location and/or the dangers its agents caused by dropping trolley passengers off moments before an Amtrak train was scheduled to pass.”

The Federal Railroad Administration attributed Zheng’s death to his decision to illegally cross the railroad tracks after he disembarked the trolley.

According to a summary from the Federal Railroad Administration, Zheng “darted out from behind a wall at the crossing separating trolley station from Main Track 1.”

Data from the administration reveals that from January 1, 2020, through September 1, 2020, there were six collisions with pedestrians on San Diego County railroad tracks. The previous year, the federal agency documented four collisions countywide with pedestrians, three of which were fatal.

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Washington Street trolley stop in Middletown
Washington Street trolley stop in Middletown

The family of a 79-year-old Chinese immigrant who was struck and killed by a speeding Amtrak train near Little Italy in February of this year has filed legal claims against MTS, the city and county.

The claims, which I obtained through a public records request, were filed on behalf of the man, Wentian Zheng, his wife who witnessed the accident, and another family member.

According to the claim and news reports, Wentian Zheng and his family were returning from Zheng’s first immigration interview on February 18, just after 4 pm. They exited the trolley at Washington Street in Middletown, and crossed in front of the trolley on their way to catch a bus. As he crossed the southbound track, an Amtrak train traveling at nearly 50 miles per hour struck and killed Zheng.

According to the claim, it was the second time a person had died at that location by an Amtrak train since 2014.

The multiple deaths at the location, alleges the legal notice, shows that local transit and municipal employees failed to address what was a dangerous condition for pedestrians.

“The city of San Diego had actual and constructive notice regarding prior complaints and the requirement to have additional safety features, signage, maintenance, and repairs at the subject location,” reads the July 20, 2020 legal claim. “Unfortunately, the city chose to not follow the requirements, and allowed the subject location to remain in a dangerous condition.”

Attorneys for the Zheng family claim local transportation officials had been aware that signs had been posted at the location after the 2014 pedestrian fatality. They were, according to the claim, ineffective and the timing of the trolley stop and the departing Amtrak trains presented significant public safety issues.

“...This signage did not resolve the safety issues with the subject location and/or the dangers its agents caused by dropping trolley passengers off moments before an Amtrak train was scheduled to pass.”

The Federal Railroad Administration attributed Zheng’s death to his decision to illegally cross the railroad tracks after he disembarked the trolley.

According to a summary from the Federal Railroad Administration, Zheng “darted out from behind a wall at the crossing separating trolley station from Main Track 1.”

Data from the administration reveals that from January 1, 2020, through September 1, 2020, there were six collisions with pedestrians on San Diego County railroad tracks. The previous year, the federal agency documented four collisions countywide with pedestrians, three of which were fatal.

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Comments
15

What will come at some time, as a claim from someone ---- because SOMEONE will WANT to do it sometime: (surprised it has not been of yet). As the original behavior being the Fault of who drives the Car:

These lines-of-cars, that are parked as EXTENDED lined-up traffic at the traffic-light,, when there is a red light. AS THE EXTENDED LINE OF CARS SURPASSES THE RAILROAD TRACKS.
Some of those cars choose o (completely) neutralize/park on the railroad tracks/platform,, as most 'stick-their-bumper-above the tracks. I remember in the past years, when parking directly over the railroad tracks/platform was far more common. THIS BE MORE A CONCERN, WHEN THOSE SUCH CAR DRIVERS ARE CHATTING ON THEIR CELL-PHONES, WHILE PARKING IN SUCH WAY ---- ON THE RED LIGHT.

Nov. 9, 2020

They may have a claim there; usually pedestrians and rails are separated very carefully, often to extremes. But this looks as if the trolley tracks and the main rails don't have the usual fence or wall because of the street crossing. Yet, there are no signals between the two sets of tracks at all. That is not the typical situation. At the Santa Fe depot and in Old Town, people are not allowed to just walk across the rails with no barrier or warning device. Both of those locations have train stops and trolley stops where the two are kept separate--to an annoying degree. But they keep many pedestrians off the tracks used by Amtrak, the Coaster, and freights.

This is a tragic story. Nobody should have to witness the death of a loved one being struck by a speeding train. Horrible.

Nov. 10, 2020

Be it that an MTS Security Guard choose a topic/comment to debate to you, WATCH HOW CLOSE SUCH SECURITY WILL WALK UP TO YOU. I had 1 who came closer than 2 1/2 feet -- as we were only giving comments to each other. This was no citing nor legal situation.

,As he never chose to back off, the distance that he came to me..

Nov. 12, 2020

They will get a lot of money out of this. Will the train engineer get a ticket for speeding? (" . . . struck and killed by a speeding Amtrak train . . ") Was the train speeding? It does seem stupid to let passengers off the trolley when a fast moving, albeit legally, train is due.

Nov. 15, 2020

Where's the 'Speed Limit' signage? Society knows there is also signage on that show wording to clue about 'pedestrians' & 'alcohol.'

Nov. 15, 2020

With all due respect, how can you not see and hear the train coming. Even without the bars to keep you from crossing a train track, you know when a train is coming. If he illegally crossed and darted out from behind a wall, he shouldn't get any money. It is stupid to let passengers off the trolley when a fast moving train is due, but nobody forced him to cross illegally.

Nov. 15, 2020

Danger on the rails and in libraries. For both the MTS and city libraries the solution to being seated next to a sick patron who is coughing with wheezing lung's sound is for you to leave the trolley or bus or library.

Nov. 18, 2020

This not only goes to your speaking of "being seated.." In any way. You forgot to add of any standing on/to the MTS trolley station platform. As there are those homeless (or even non-homeless) who choose to walk up to you (within the station), as you are minding your own business. As this homeless/non-homeless comes up to you just as close, or even closer than the MTS security does in the trolleycar. But when it be a homeless who coughs up, now matter how mildly, that being a bigger concern. Even more, as there being no MTS Security.

Nov. 23, 2020

Now, news is coming that 1 is "hit by the COASTER." As the news is still to come in.

Nov. 18, 2020

'new' about pertains to tv media. ANYONE Been Noticing HOW MUCH QUIETER the MTS Trolleys Have Been 'Running, via the 'horns' ?

Nov. 19, 2020
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Nov. 21, 2020
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
Nov. 21, 2020

(cont about my 11/12 comment of MTS security guards): Now their having further face-coverage, far more head skin is concealed. BUT THEY won't sacrifice their adoring of that close-up walk-up distance, in comparison to earlier time.
No matter how legit a behavioral, how paying a MTS passenger anyone is.

Are they trying to prove how much they love their job?~

Nov. 22, 2020
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Nov. 23, 2020

What's going to come of Christmas? Changes in exterior lighting? Apparel changes? But then that's @ further taxpayer cost, than what was already made with the updated masking.

Nov. 23, 2020

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