Edmonds police investigating after pedestrian killed by train Tuesday

Updated at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday

Edmonds police were interviewing witnesses Tuesday afternoon in an effort to piece together what led to the pedestrian fatality that occurred on the Edmonds train tracks around noon. The victim was positively identified as a 43-year-old male from Wichita, Kansas, Edmonds police spokesman Sgt. Josh McClure said.

Railroad crossings at both Dayton and Main Streets were blocked for about three hours following the incident. Edmonds-Kingston ferry service was also temporarily suspended; Washington State Ferries temporarily rerouted ferries to the Coleman Dock in Seattle.

Witnesses say that victim was on the tracks next to the Amtrak loading platform when he was struck by the train. “I’m not sure if that was accidentally [or] intentionally,” McClure said. “We’re still trying to sort this all out.” Eyewitnesses saw the entire incident and are working with detectives, he said.

The incident blocked the only access points to and from the Edmonds waterfront, leaving those visiting the popular beach or off-leash dog park as well as business owners and their customers stranded on the waterfront side. In addition, first responders were called to a few minor medical emergencies along the waterfront during the train blockage, which required them to crawl through an open rail car to get to the west side of the train tracks so they could evaluate patients.

Among the emergencies were a young boy who fell and split his lip, needing medical attention, and a pregnant woman due to give birth, McClure said.

Police help those cross over the blocked railroad tracks.
Police help stranded beachgoers cross over the blocked railroad tracks.

Police worked with BNSF officials to obtain permission to use the open railroad car, ensuring first that the train would not move, he said.

“It’s extremely challenging for us,” McClure said. “There’s a lot of people who don’t know what happened or why this shutdown has occurred, so there’s frustrations boiling over, which is completely understandable. We’re trying to educate them as best we can that this isn’t just a broken down car; this is a serious incident but we understand that people are trying to get along with their lives.”

“We’re doing our best to maintain our primary focus on the scene itself and our secondary focus is on the safety and well-being of those surrounding it,” he said.

In addition to ensuring that first responders can safely get across the tracks, police also were helping pedestrians stranded on the waterfront to get to the other side. McClure estimating that about 100 people were assisted in getting through the open rail car.

The train was held at the scene until the Snohomish County Medical Examiner finished their investigation, and both crossings were opened up just before 3 p.m. The medical examiner’s office will issue a formal determination of cause and manner of death, McClure said.

Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling called the fatality “very sad,” adding that his thoughts go out to the victim’s family. And the mayor also said that the incident points to urgency of work being conducted by a mayor-appointed task force to develop solutions for providing emergency access during train blockages.

— By Teresa Wippel with reporting by Larry Vogel and Natalie Covate

  1. Sadly this is probably another suicide by train. There is help if you are feeling that desperate – call the National Suicide Prevention Center 1 (800) 273-8255 or even 911 and people can help you or text TEXT “GO” TO 741-741 for the Crisis Text Line and trained counselors will respond.

    My heart goes out to the victim’s family as well as those working on the train.

  2. How irresponsible and insensitive to assume a suicide! You have no idea what actually happened. Accidents with trains frequently occur.

    1. Terri – the police at the scene were calling it a suicide. Witnesses reported that the man was sitting on a bench at the train station. When the train came, he jumped up and onto the tracks.

  3. Pedestrians should not walk or stand on vacant train tracks. You never know when a train will come along. I was on the Edmonds beach yesterday afternoon and witnessed a young couple climb up the rocks and stand on the tracks. I wanted to tell them, to not stand there, but they’re grown-ups and probably knew the risks. Who knows maybe this visitor wanted to take a photo of an approaching train and tragically didn’t get off the tracks in time.

  4. My friend went to a friend’s home just as the incident happened. They parked up town and walked to their destination. It is a sad way all the way around. Whether he slipped or chose to jump. Keep his family, the people that witnessed this tragic day , train crew and all the medical teams-fire department all in prayer. Life has it’s ups and downs but God Loves us and does care about each of us individually and knows our hearts.

  5. I sat in my car on Railroad Avenue, right by the intersection with Dayton, for the almost three hour wait. What I observed was two courteous members of the police force ably assisting pedestrians up onto the rail car to allow them to get safely to the eastern side of the tracks. I didn’t count but I would guess it was close to 75 people, lots of strollers and lots of dogs. When the train moved north, the police very professionally moved the pedestrians east and west, then began directing the cars. I’m very sorry for the tragic accident and the loss of a life. While by no means ignoring that, I am also very proud of our police and firemen who were on their scene and calmly doing their duty.

  6. I agree. The first responders deserve our appreciation. “Among the emergencies were a young boy who fell and split his lip, needing medical attention, and a pregnant woman due to give birth, McClure said.” Any update on the pregnant woman? Did she have her baby?

    1. She is a friend of mine. She had sporatic contractions last night but no baby yet. Her due date was yesterday.

  7. We were at the west side of the tracks when this unfolded. As the bell was ringing regarding the tracks (basically the whole time regarding staying off the tracks warning) we saw many many people going up into that open car to get to the other side and that was during the sans police helping time………we were among many of these people on the west side as they lingered and talked for hours ……………We did see a pregnant woman being helped up and over the car……….the rest of the people seemed to be stupidly going onto that car just because they wanted to get some place else. There were also many, many people at the front of the train going over the tracks as a Washington ferry person told them to if they wanted…….seemed odd with the stay off the tracks bell ringing.and the train stopped right there….at least thats what I always thought the bell ringing meant. At some point yellow tape was put there so people wouldnt cross. Many people just landed and decided to enjoy our beach, shop at Senior Center Thrift, eat at the different establisments and many, many kids with smiles and ice cream cones fron the Charter Cafe totally not aware of any emergency.

    Most people seemed to have turned a tragic event into a restfull, relaxing day at the beach and many did not even know there was a covered body right under the train across the way

    . …….considering in a hundred years very few accidents and quite frankly no amount of money spent there can stop someone if they choose to take their life in this way

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