Tragedy struck in the City of South Pasadena last Sunday when the police department’s 911 dispatch received an early-morning call from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department conveying that a pedestrian had been hit by a southbound train just minutes earlier at the intersection of Pasadena Avenue and Monterey Road. Upon arriving at the scene, South Pasadena Police Department (SPPD) officers immediately learned the incident had resulted in a fatality.
The victim was identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office as 21-year-old South Pasadena resident Chloe Plotikov. Plotikov, who had attended SPHS in 2013, reportedly positioned herself just inside the descended crossing arms of the Metro intersection signal system before letting herself fall in front of the train at the very last minute. “It seemed like she was kind of looking down at the train and just basically leapt in front of it as it came,” said SPPD Corporal Craig Phillips, one of the first police officers to arrive at the scene.
The identity of the victim could not be determined at first due to the extensive damage the body endured. Reports originally said that the deceased was female, between 40 and 50 years old, and either Caucasian or light-skinned Hispanic. However, that age was “a rough estimate,” said Phillips, adding, “it was really hard to tell.”
“She was pretty badly beaten up, obviously,” he said. “We didn’t immediately recognize her.”
There were no reported injuries among the roughly 31 passengers aboard the train at the time of the incident. Those passengers were taken away within half an hour by another train and removed from the scene. It is not known whether the group included any South Pasadena residents. In the aftermath of such an emergency, said Phillips, it is not police policy to take down the personal information of each witness as their priority is to attend to the body and deal with cleanup.
The train conductor told officials that there may have been something or someone in the distance, but didn’t see the woman until it was too late. There is no evidence that had he seen her earlier he would have been able to slow the train in time to avoid the tragedy. Cameras positioned on the front of the train should provide officials with more details of the woman’s death.
As to the operation of the Metro crossing signal system, Phillips reported that everything was functioning properly. “All the arms were down, the lights, the crosswalk signals were working,” he said. “When we got there roughly three or four minutes after it happened, the gates were operational at that time, down and proper. The train had stopped about 30 yards south of the intersection, towards Arroyo Verde. As we looked around, nothing looked like it had malfunctioned.”
Though the northbound tracks were released by Metro, trains did not run until approximately 1:30 p.m., when full service resumed. Until then, the County organized emergency transit aid for stranded passengers.
“They do what they call a bus bridge,” said Phillips. “From the Figueroa station, which is one south, to the station one north of us, people will get off, take a bus to the different stations and then continue their ride.”
There have been four or five people hit in the city since the Gold Line began operating in 2003. This is the second fatality.