Wrongful-Death Claims Filed by Families of Men Hit, Killed by Trains After Exiting San Diego Trolleys

One family called San Diego's Washington Street trolley stop a “hidden trap for MTS passengers.”

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A wrongful-death lawsuit has been filed by the family of a man hit and killed by an Amtrak train as he walked from an MTS trolley. It happened in 2020 and an eerily similar death occurred months ago in the same location.

Wentian Zheng immigrated to the U.S. in 2007, but his dream of citizenship came to a tragic end the afternoon of Feb. 18, 2020.

The 79-year-old grandfather was hit and killed by an Amtrak train in front of his wife after they stepped off an MTS trolley at Washington Street and Pacific Highway and walked toward the bus stop.

"They didn’t see the train and there’s no sound," the couple’s daughter Lillian Zheng told NBC 7 the day of the accident.

Zheng’s wife Shuxia He said her husband did not hear or see the train because of a wall that blocked their view.

Just hours before the accident, Zheng had gone for his first citizenship interview.

Now, the family is citing safety concerns in a wrongful-death lawsuit.

The suit claims the defendants, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) failed to adequately warn pedestrians of the danger.

Zheng family attorney Jim Lance claims previous signage to "look both ways" and pavement markings to "watch for moving trains" had been in place but was removed sometime before the accident and then replaced after Zheng's death.

Investigators said the conductor sounded their horn while going 48 mph in a 50 mph zone.

A second claim has been filed against the City of San Diego over the death of Vietnam veteran John Jacoby. He was hit by a train in July of 2021.

The claim says that same wall "obstructs the view" of oncoming trains as pedestrians try to cross the tracks. The Jacoby family calls it a "hidden trap for MTS passengers."

Shneqwa McCauley was about to cross the tracks Thursday and didn’t realize a train was on the other side.

"It’s kind of scary if you’re getting off and you think you’re just going to walk," McCauley said. "There’s been times where I just completely forgot about the other side of the track."

Thursday, the warning signs are posted and other passengers we spoke with said they don't feel unsafe.

"They make enough noise," MTS passenger Joe Stewart said. "They warn you coming from Old Town down and coming from Downtown."

"I do feel safe. If you look before you leap kind of thing, you will be safe," passenger Dale Glover said. "So, it’s not really confusing."

SANDAG said it does not comment on pending litigation. NCB 7 also reached out to the city for comment and we are waiting to hear back.

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