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Caltrain Admits It Knew About Fatal Crossing

Mar 5, 2005 | San Francisco Examiner

Caltrain officials knew about poor conditions at the San Mateo railroad crossing where 16-year-old Michael Bulnes Jr. was killed in October 2000 far enough in advance that they could have fixed the problem, attorneys said in court.

Bulnes' father, also named Michael Bulnes, is suing Caltrain, the commuter rail that runs between San Francisco and San Jose, for negligence leading to his son's death. He claims that his son's foot was stuck in a pothole next to the track and that he could have avoided being hit had the problem been fixed.

"I was shocked," Bulnes' attorney said on the defense attorney's decision to agree to those facts.

Caltrain's attorney, Eugene Brown Jr., declined to comment.

The revelation came following opening statements from both attorneys in a jury trial expected to last at least 15 court days. During his opening speech, O'Reilly attempted to present a scenario of Bulnes' last hours that culminated with the 16-year-old breaking his leg in the pothole, moments before being struck by a train. He said he would present testimony from two doctors to prove this.

he family attorney Tshowed the jury several photos taken around the time of the accident showing decaying asphalt around the tracks where Bulnes was killed.

"He had ample time to clear the tracks had his foot not been trapped by something in order to break it the way it did," O'Reilly said.

But Caltrain's attorney argued that the condition of the road at the time was not relevant to the case.

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