A 29-year-old man, who founded a San Jose-based social media strategy firm, was killed early Tuesday when a train struck his car after it ended up on its side on Caltrain tracks in Redwood City, according to the California Highway Patrol and the San Mateo County coroner's office.
The fatal collision, which temporarily blocked northbound and southbound tracks, occurred around 1:20 a.m. in the area of Buckingham and Westmoreland avenues, officials said.
The driver, identified as Pierre-Alexandre Meloty-Kapella, 29, of Redwood City, plowed through a fence and his Volkswagen eventually came to rest on the tracks.
A maintenance train traveling north on a sidetrack that is used mainly by freight trains hit the Volkswagen, dragged it "several feet," and killed Meloty-Kapella, Caltrain officials said.
The victim's company website said his firm pacmk was a one-man show that he founded in the summer of 2016. He is a Palo Alto native.
Meloty-Kapella was also a legislative fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives for three months in 2009, according to his LinkedIn profile. He went to Williams College in Massachusetts and worked as a research assistant at Stanford Law School.
By 5:14 a.m., tracks in both directions had been reopened with 10 mph speed restrictions in the area, according to Caltrain. The speed restrictions were removed less than 30 minutes later.
An investigation into the collision is ongoing. CHP Officer Art Montiel said officers are looking into whether drugs or alcohol played a part in the crash or whether Meloty-Kapella simply fell asleep at the wheel.
Montiel said there were no skid marks that would indicate that Meloty-Kapella tried to stop before his vehicle rammed through the fence.
Tuesday's incident marks Caltrain's fifth fatality of 2017, the agency reported.