Claremonter remembered after deadly train accident
**UPDATED Wednesday, June 6 at 2:13 p.m.**
A local man was struck and killed by a Metrolink train near the intersection of Indian Hill Boulevard and First Street on Tuesday, June 4. Police received the call around 6:11 a.m. The man, identified as 60-year-old Michael Patrick Rodriguez of Claremont, was declared dead upon officers’ arrival at the scene just moments later.
Mr. Rodriguez was on the west side of Indian Hill heading south when he was struck by a Metrolink Express train 383 heading toward Union Station on the south set of tracks, according to Claremont Lieutenant Mike Ciszek. No other train was in sight or even in the area at the time of the collision, verified Metrolink spokesman Jeff Lustgarten.
According to the Metrolink schedule, the 383 Express train is a nearly direct transit from San Bernardino to Los Angeles, stopping only in Rancho Cucamonga and Covina en route to LA’s Union Station.
There was no indication the incident was an act of suicide, according to an investigator with the Los Angeles County Coroner. The guardrails were down at the time of the incident, Lt. Ciszek confirmed. However, while the rails at the intersection where Mr. Rodriguez was struck block traffic, they do not jut out to block the pedestrian walkway. Police have obtained video surveillance and are currently investigating further into the events leading to the incident.
Several of Mr. Rodriguez’s friends and family members were on scene Tuesday morning, but refused comment.
Unfortunately, train vs. pedestrian incidents are not a rare occurrence for Metrolink officials, acknowledged Mr. Lustgarten. Sometimes a month goes by without incident. At other times there are several reported within one week.
“We had kind of a spate of incidents a few weeks ago, totally unrelated to one another,” Mr. Lustgarten said. “It just kind of happened. There is no rhyme or reason to it.”
About 350 passengers were onboard the westbound train at the time Mr. Rodriguez was hit. None sustained injuries from the crash and all were safely evacuated from the train, according to Mr. Lustgarten. Despite significant delays following the accident, Metrolink officials and Claremont officers were able to reopen a second track during the investigation and following cleanup, and also brought in back up transportation for help. As of noon on Tuesday both tracks had been reopened and delays had been resolved.
Family and friends gathered again late Tuesday to set up a memorial near the tracks in remembrance of Mr. Rodriguez. Flowers, written tributes and votive candles serve as a tribute to a man friends describe as a hard worker and caring friend.
“He was a really quiet and down-to-earth person,” said co-worker Janet Aguayo, who worked with Mr. Rodriguez at the Red Cross for 5 years.
Mr. Rodriguez worked as a driver for the Red Cross, helping to set up blood drives and transporting the donated blood. A Red Cross Shirt hangs at the train track memorial to symbolize his dedication to the organization. He was a selfless worker, reflected Patricia Cabral, another co-worker present with Ms. Aguayo.
“He loved to work,” Ms. Cabral said. “Never had a bad thing to say about anyone and he was never upset and smiled a lot.”