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Metrolink Train Kills 2 Joggers

Accident: Both were running on the railroad tracks in Corona; one was wearing stereo headphones. Trains usually do not operate on Sundays.


CORONA — A Metrolink train carrying motor racing fans Sunday morning to the California Speedway struck and killed two joggers who were running on the railroad tracks, authorities said.

One of the two joggers, Corona police said, was wearing stereo headphones and may not have heard the train as it roared around a bend, approaching from behind.

Both joggers were killed instantly.

The Riverside County coroner's office late Sunday identified them as Raymond Votaw, 53, and Michael Grady, 45, both of Corona.

A third jogger--running near but not on the tracks--escaped injury, police said. Officers did not say which of the two dead men had been wearing headphones.

A Metrolink spokesman, Peter Hidalgo, said with frustration that the two deaths could easily have been avoided--and that the incident underscored the "casual attitude" that Metrolink officials believe many Southern Californians hold about the danger inherent in being on or near railroad tracks.

"These people who were on the tracks should never have been there in the first place," Hidalgo said. "It's these kinds of senseless acts that are incomprehensible and, quite frankly, Metrolink feels we don't need to apologize for these kinds of incidents.

"You would never even think of running with a headset on a busy roadway or freeway," Hidalgo said.

Metrolink trains do not normally operate on Sundays. Over the weekend, however, the agency provided special service to the speedway in Fontana. On Sunday, 22 trains carried 14,000 racing fans to and from the track, he said.

The joggers were hit at 8:06 a.m., police said.

Officers said the joggers were en route to a nearby park to meet other members of the Greyhound Jogging Club.

As Votaw and Grady ran east on the tracks, the third jogger--Jeffrey Shepard, 45, of Norco--was running about 15 feet ahead, on a dirt path alongside the tracks, police Sgt. Shawn Dredla said.

Shepard heard the train, its horn and the loud squeal of brakes, Dredla said.

Turning around, Shepard saw the other two joggers lying alongside the tracks, Dredla said, adding, "They were obviously deceased."

No one answered the phone later Sunday at Shepard's home.

None of the 700 passengers aboard the train was hurt. The train resumed its journey after about a half-hour delay, Hidalgo said.

The six-car train had been hurtling along at 60 mph when the engineer saw the joggers, Hidalgo said.

The engineer blew the horn and threw the train into an emergency stop, he said. It takes about a third of a mile to stop a train that long going that fast, and it proved impossible to stop in time, he said.

Hidalgo said the engineer was not at fault.

"He repeatedly blew the train's horn," and he "put the train into an emergency stop," Hidalgo said.

Noting that "it's illegal to be on or near tracks because it's private property," Hidalgo said of the engineer: "What could he do when the trespassers were not heeding his warnings?"

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