Musicians Struck By Train in Bay Area

Two Tower of Power musicians were struck by a train in the Bay Area on Jan. 12

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Two members of Tower of Power, a group that has been an R&B institution for nearly 50 years, were hit by a train Thursday night as they walked across tracks before a performance in their hometown of Oakland, but both survived, their publicist said.

Calling it an “unfortunate accident,” publicist Jeremy Westby said in a statement that drummer David Garibaldi and bass player Marc van Wageningen are “responsive and being treated at a local hospital.”

Garibaldi has been with the group since 1970. Van Wageningen is substituting as bass player.

Tower of Power, which performs in San Diego nearly every year, is scheduled to play the Belly Up in Solana Beach on Jan. 18. According to the venue's Show Promotions Manager, Meryl Klemow, the concert is still on and going forward as planned.

Without identifying them, the Oakland Fire Department said earlier that two pedestrians were hit by a passenger train at Jack London Square about 7:30 p.m. and taken to a hospital.

The accident was near Yoshi’s, a jazz and R&B club where the group had been scheduled to play two shows Thursday night. Both were canceled.

It wasn’t clear why the men were on the tracks, but pedestrians often need to cross them in the area with trains running across and in between streets, including right outside Yoshi’s.

Emilio Castillo, the leader of Tower of Power, wrote on the band's Facebook page Friday morning that Garibaldi suffered swelling to his face and head, "but he was lucid and expected to recover." Van Wageningen was taken into surgery and doctors were able to control his internal bleeding, Castillo penned. Doctors, who are waiting for van Wageningen to stablize before conducting additional tests, are "cautiously optimistic" about the bassist's status.

Witnesses said the scene was confusing because one train passed by and the crossing signals went up and lights stopped flashing. They added that the two men may have assumed it was safe to cross.

"We were maybe two feet from a train that was flying by," Hae-Sin Thomas said. "We could feel the rush of it, which is why we kind of leaned back and moved away from the train. The other two gentlemen were not so fortunate."

Amtrak train 547, on the Capitol Corridor line that travels between Sacramento and San Jose, had 26 passengers onboard with no reported injuries to passengers or crew, Amtrak officials said. They added that the two pedestrians struck by the train were trespassing on the tracks. Ambtrack did not address whether or not there was a malfunction with the crossing gate or lights.

The enduring band was founded in Oakland in 1968 and became known for its big, brassy sound blending funk and rock. Their highest-charting song is 1973's "So Very Hard to Go," but the band has continued to record and perform with a rotating line-up, and will turn 50 next year.

Garibaldi joined Tower of Power in 1970, according to the band's website. Van Wageningen, a member of the Pete Escovedo Orchestra, is a stand-in musician for the group, according to the East Bay Times.

Tributes and well wishes were quickly emerging on Twitter, including one from pop star and drummer Sheila E., who tweeted “Pleez pray for my frenz.”

(The Associated Press contributed to this article)

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