Death of Ferndale man struck by train ruled suicide

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJuly 1, 2014 

FERNDALE - A man who committed suicide by standing in front of an oncoming train in Ferndale has been identified.

Robert Tripp, 49, of Washington Street, stared down a southbound BNSF freight train Monday, June 30, on a rail bridge that parallels Ferndale's Main Street. The train blasted its whistle three or four times, witnesses said, but the shirtless man stood still facing north, on the north end of the bridge over the Nooksack River.

He made eye contact with the conductor before the train struck him, according to police. On impact he was thrown to the bottom of the steep, 20-foot-tall riverbank. Tripp was dead when police arrived one minute later.

Per BNSF policy, a new crew was called in from Seattle to take over the train's route. Traffic in Ferndale was slowed for about two hours because of the stopped train.

Tripp had nothing in his jeans pockets except a broken cellphone and keys, police said. Officers didn't recognize him. His identity was confirmed Tuesday through fingerprints.

After an autopsy, authorities ruled the death a suicide.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Dispatcher Blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog or follow him on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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