Jury decides there was no ‘dangerous condition’ that led to 19-year-old’s death along Del Mar rail
A jury ruled in favor of North County Transit District in a case over a 19-year-old Poway resident who was killed by a passing train in Del Mar six years ago.
Following a 10-day trial, jurors decided 11-1 that the right of way, which is owned by NCTD, was not in a “dangerous condition” at the time of the accident. The family of the victim, Javad Hedayatzadeh, filed a lawsuit in 2017 alleging that NCTD should have taken steps to reduce the likelihood of an accident.
In September 2016, Hedayatzadeh had driven to Del Mar with two friends and parked at the end of 13th Street. A guardrail at the site of the accident prevents automobiles from accessing the right of way, but pedestrians can walk around it.
According to court documents, the three walked down to the train tracks, where they were trespassing, and headed north. They smoked cannabis on the west side of the tracks.
Hedayatzadeh told his friends that he wanted to take a selfie as a BNSF freight train passed by from the south. He was struck by the train and killed.
The city of Del Mar and BNSF were also named as defendants, but successfully petitioned the court to be dropped from the case long before it reached trial last month.
The trial, which ended Sept. 22, included witness testimony from Del Mar City Councilmember Dave Druker, who was asked about bluff access and whether it is dangerous to cross the tracks. Druker was not on the City Council at the time of the accident.
Attorneys representing the city of Del Mar had asked the court last year to excuse Druker from being called as a witness, since the city was no longer part of the case, but were rejected. They successfully petitioned the court to excuse Councilmember Dan Quirk, former Councilmembers Sherryl Parks and Terry Sinnott, and former Planning Director Kathleen Garcia from being called as witnesses.
NCTD Executive Director Matthew Tucker was also called as a witness. An NCTD spokesperson declined comment on the outcome of the case.
Attorneys representing the Hedayatzadeh family did not respond to a request for comment.
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