Woman killed by Seattle light rail tripped and fell, police say

Witnesses to Sunday’s fatal light rail crash report that a woman at Mount Baker station appeared to trip and fall from the southbound passenger boarding platform just as a train arrived, according to Seattle police.

The victim, identified Monday by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office as Nicole Stephanie Lyons, 39, died from blunt force injuries. His death was ruled accidental.

The incident, which happened at 1.24pm on a busy summer train journey, is not being investigated as a homicide, police said. Trains were delayed for two hours during Sunday’s response, which included an extrication by firefighters.

Sound Transit has turned over the video footage to police for further investigation, transit spokesman John Gallagher said. In addition to platform cameras, trains contain in-cab video and event recorders that are analyzed by transit safety administrators as part of post-crash investigations.

“All we know is that for some reason the woman was apparently tripping as the train slowed down and headed for the station,” Gallagher said.

It was the first accident between a train and a pedestrian at Mount Baker elevated station since the line opened in 2009. However, on July 27, 2021, a 45-year-old man, who was wandering on the platform, was fell into the tracks and suffered a head injury. Two Good Samaritans rescued him before the next train arrived, the transit inquiry found.

There have been five incidents at other stations since 2009 where someone fell from the platforms into the path of a moving train. Accidents are much more common at surface stations, where turning vehicles and people in crosswalks mingle with railcars.

To reduce the risk of falls, Sound Transit recently replaced broken yellow tiles on the northbound passenger platform at Columbia City Station, followed by southbound work later this month and station replacements. Othello and Rainier Beach next year. Tiles weren’t connected in Sunday’s fall.

In some countries, such as Japan and Korea, platform gates are common to prevent riders from falling onto the tracks. This technology is virtually non-existent in the United States, said Peter DeLeonardis, director of public transportation for Stanley Access Technologies, which installs security doors in train stations. Rail systems in the United States are not automated, which makes using gates more complicated and expensive.

“Here in the United States, our rail infrastructure is somewhat outdated and we don’t have that capability across the board,” he said.

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority will soon test the gates of three stations – Times Square, Third Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard. The Honolulu Rapid Transit Authority is adding gates to its 20-mile system which is still under construction.

Stanley recently installed eight full-length gates at the Seattle Center Monorail’s Westlake station, replacing the half-length gates as part of a renovation in preparation for the Seattle Kraken’s first season. DeLeonardis said it was a relatively simple project because the train only makes two stops.

Toronto Transit Advocates request platform doors after a passenger was pushed off a platform in a random attack; officials think the costs are nearly $1.35 billion to modernize 75 metro stations. In Vancouver, British Columbia, TransLink has been reluctant to install platform doors, where the challenges are trying to match three different train models, according to daily hive.

Jose P. Rogers