Former Del Mar Mayor Killed by Train While Running After Dog

Louis "Lou" Terrell was fatally struck on the tracks as he saved his dog in a tragic accident

By Danya Bacchus, Monica Garske and Matthew Wood
|  Saturday, Jan 4, 2014  |  Updated 10:01 AM PDT
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Former Del Mar mayor Louis Terrell was killed by a train on Jan. 3, 2014, near the tracks on 11th Street. Officials say Terrell was running after his unleashed dog near the tracks when he was fatally hit. The dog survived. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports on the tragic accident.

Former Del Mar mayor Louis Terrell was killed by a train on Jan. 3, 2014, near the tracks on 11th Street. Officials say Terrell was running after his unleashed dog near the tracks when he was fatally hit. The dog survived. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports on the tragic accident.

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Man Killed by Train While Running After Dog

A man was struck and killed by a train in Del Mar while running after his dog near the train tracks. The dog survived.
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The man who was struck and killed by an oncoming train while running after his dog near the train tracks Friday afternoon in Del Mar, Calif., has been identified as Louis "Lou" Terrell, a former mayor and city councilman.

San Diego County sheriff’s deputies say that around 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Terrell was walking his unleashed dog on the bluffs near the train tracks in the 100-block of 11th Street when a northbound Amtrak train approached the area and sounded its horn.

Investigators believe the horn spooked the dog, which darted across the tracks with Terrell running after his pet. The train hit Terrell, killing him on impact.

“He’s done this probably a million times,” said Nick Ovanessoff, a Del Mar resident. “For the train to come by like that is pretty tragic, we’re all kind of shocked. I’ve lived here for 20 years and never seen anything like this.”

Terrell was also a former political science professor and chairman at San Diego State University.

Emergency crews confirmed the Terrell’s death at the scene. Officials said it appears the man wasn't struck head-on by the train and may have been trying to get out of the way when he was fatally hit.

“It’s a horrible tragedy,” said Jeff Jonas, a Del Mar resident. “He was obviously chasing his dog, which any dog owner would obviously do and it just turned out terribly.”

Following the accident, Terrell's daughter gave a statement to NBC 7 San Diego before asking media to respect the family's privacy while they grieve.

“It’s a tragic and shocking loss," said his daughter. "He was beloved by his family and the community and former colleagues at SDSU.”

The family said the dog survived and is at the Terrell home.

No one else was injured in the collision, though officials did say the conductor of the train was extremely shaken up by the accident. This portion of the tracks in Del Mar is a popular crossing spot for surfers and walkers in the area.

The accident caused some train delays in San Diego's North County Friday, including some slowing with the COASTER train, according to the North County Transit District.

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