Duane “Ranger” Heier, who was hit by a light rail train April 8 at Rainier Beach Station, died of his injuries Tuesday.
Heier, 62, the co-owner of Steamboat Island Nursery in Olympia, was on his way to the Mariners baseball home opener with friends, and decided to park near Link to avoid driving around Highway 99 construction in Sodo, said his partner Laine McLaughlin in an interview Thursday. Other coverage is here from The Olympian.
Police say he was walking across Martin Luther King Jr. Way South about 5 p.m., when he was struck by a southbound train. Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray said the train was already decelerating to stop at the station, and its operator threw on the emergency brakes. Heier was knocked down by the train and sustained head injuries. A followup check showed signals were working properly, Gray said. Video from the station platform indicates he looked right toward the train he was about to catch, but didn’t see the other one approach from his left, a preliminary Sound Transit report said.
The agency says there were two previous pedestrian fatalities in Rainier Valley: an elderly woman in a walker died weeks after a train struck her at a crossing September 2012, and another woman was hit walking in the trackway in May 2011, an incident officials suspect was drug-related. Official data weren’t immediately available, but news archives indicate two suicides in Sodo, a few incidents in which pedestrians were hurt after they walked into a moving train, and at least nine when motor vehicles were hit making improper turns over the tracks.