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UPDATED: Train suicide victim identified

Posted: April 16, 2009 1:13 a.m.
Updated: April 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.
The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office identified James Frances Simonet as the man who committed suicide by lying down on the railroad tracks in the path of an oncoming Metrolink train in rural Canyon Country March 31.

The Coroner's Office released the victim's name Wednesday.

Simonet, 54, of Canyon Country, sustained multiple traumatic injuries when the train struck him, said Craig Harvey, a coroner's spokesman.

"The manner of death was suicide," he said.

Simonet was struck by Metrolink train 215 near Oaks Springs Canyon Road shortly after 6 p.m. March 31 as it traveled between Los Angeles and Lancaster. The death led to separate investigations of the incident by Metrolink and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Homicide Bureau.

The Metrolink investigation was limited to the operation of the train, including the speed of the locomotive, said Francisco Oaxaca, Metrolink spokesman.

The train conductor saw Simonet before impact, but could not stop the train in time, Oaxaca said. Even at full braking, it takes several hundred feet for the train to come to a full stop, he said.

The speed of the train prior to impact has not been determined, Oaxaca said.

Metrolink operates hundreds of miles of unprotected track, making the system easily accessible, Oaxaca said. But that easy access wasn't a factor in the March 31 incident, since the nearest crossing or train station was three miles from the collision, he said.

The suicide marks the first fatal rail incident in the Santa Clarita Valley since two people were struck by a Metrolink train on April 13, 2006. That's when Sandra Fabiola Quijada Garcia, 16, of Santa Clarita, and Fernando Nava Munoz, 19, of Palmdale, were struck in Newhall and killed by a Metrolink train headed toward Los Angeles.


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