Two homeless men were struck and killed by Amtrak trains in Santa Barbara last week, though it is unclear whether the deaths were suicides.

Though the 55-year-old man killed last Thursday just north of the Santa Barbara Amtrak station had received citations for trespassing on the railroads several times in the past, police spokesperson Lt. Paul McCaffrey said alcohol appeared to have played a role in the incident. “We found alcohol and we’ve cited him before for being on railroad property,” McCaffrey said. “He was someone who used alcohol frequently, and when we found him there was open beer on the ground and you could smell an odor.”

The following day, residents of a neighborhood near the tracks reported a 56-year-old man for “trying” their doorknobs and “making bizarre statements,” said McCaffrey. But by the time police arrived, the man had been hit by a train.

In both instances, McCaffrey said, the train conductor sounded his horn upon seeing the victims, but neither moved out of the train’s path in time. “Someone could be intentionally near the train but it’s hard to say if they intentionally want to die,” McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey added that many homeless people in Santa Barbara County “hang around the railroad track,” despite obvious dangers. In efforts to minimize injuries and uphold the integrity of railroad property, McCaffrey said police used to give out citations, and now “encourage people to not use those routes [on foot].”

McCaffrey said no foul play appears to be involved in either incident. The victims’ names have yet to be released.


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