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Woman hit by train south of downtown Bellingham

Bellingham Police investigate Monday’s night’s suicide on the railroad tracks at Pine and Wharf streets south of downtown.
Bellingham Police investigate Monday’s night’s suicide on the railroad tracks at Pine and Wharf streets south of downtown. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A woman was killed by a train on Monday night south of downtown Bellingham, authorities said Tuesday.

Dr. Gary Goldfogel, Whatcom County medical examiner, ruled her death a suicide. He said the 37-year-old woman left notes about her intentions.

Assistant Chief Bill Hewett of the Bellingham Fire Department said firefighters were sent to a report of a woman hit by a train about 7:30 p.m. Monday at Pine and Wharf streets, where the tracks cross the road near the south end of Cornwall Avenue.

“She was deceased at the scene,” Hewett said, adding Bellingham Police are investigating.

BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas said the train was an Amtrak passenger liner using BNSF tracks. Two Amtrak trains and three BNSF freight trains were delayed while police investigated the incident, Melonas said.

Vernae Graham, Amtrak spokeswoman in Oakland, California, said the Amtrak 517 was southbound from Vancouver, B.C., and was due to stop at the Fairhaven station. It was traveling at 20 mph when the engineer saw the woman sitting on the tracks.

No injuries were reported to the crew or passengers and the locomotive suffered no damage, Graham said. Both the conductor and engineer asked for relief after the incident and they went off-duty, Graham added.

Bellingham Police Lt. Danette Beckley said authorities are withholding the woman’s name until her relatives could be notified.

“The train had given its warning whistles but the person did not move,” Beckley said in a statement.

Melonas said the tracks opened about 10 p.m. Monday.

He said this was the 22nd train fatality this year in Washington state, and the third this week.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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