Coroner identifies woman killed on train tracks
Daily News Staff Writer
February 3, 2006
Residents at a Samson Street apartment building left flowers Thursday by the door of their longtime neighbor, Bonnie Heitz, who was remembered as a “kind-hearted person.”
Heitz, 58, lived in her Redwood City apartment for 35 years and commuted every day to her job at the Kelly-Moore Paint Co., according to longtime friend Mark Mitsch. She was crossing the Caltrain tracks at Brewster Avenue on her way to a bus stop Wednesday morning when she was struck and killed by an oncoming train.
“It’s affected our whole building — she lived here for so long,” Mitsch said. Neighbors were leaving flowers by Heitz’s door yesterday in a makeshift memorial.
Heitz leaves behind a brother, James, who lives in the East Bay, along with a pet cat named Chantilly, who Mitsch will likely wind up adopting. She liked gardening and was a very social, very protective person.
“She was like my cop,” Mitsch said. “She kept a watch out when I wasn’t there.”
Heitz’s death raises questions about rail safety and the barriers Caltrain has in place to keep people off the tracks.
Most of those who die on the Caltrain tracks are people seeking suicide. Others are killed thinking they can beat the train, either on foot or in a car, according to Jonah Weinberg, spokesman for the San Mateo County Transit District. That’s what happened in Heitz’s case.
Although all crossings have arms that block vehicles, and some have secondary arms that block sidewalks, people still find ways to cross the tracks whether or not trains are coming, according to Weinberg. Fences have been installed along some portions of the tracks, but people cut through them.
“In an ideal world, it would be impossible for people to get on the rails,” Weinberg said. “Right now, there’s no way to keep people off them.”
This article originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily News.