FREMONT -- A disoriented 83-year-old woman whose car was stuck in a set of railroad tracks in Fremont Wednesday morning, narrowly escaped being hit by a commuter train.
The woman, whom police say became lost on her way to see a doctor, managed to flash her car lights at the oncoming train, alerting its conductor to stop the locomotive in time, said Geneva Bosques, spokeswoman for the Fremont Police Department. The train conductor then allowed the woman to board the train to keep warm until police arrived.
Officers were dispatched at 7 a.m. after the woman dialed 911 and told a dispatcher that her black 2000 Honda Accord was stuck on the railroad tracks at the intersection of Stevenson and Mission boulevards, Bosques said.
When police arrived, they could not find the woman or her car.
After further investigation, officers found the woman and her car at the west end of Auto Mall Parkway, near a waste disposal facility.
Officers learned she was searching for a medical clinic on Mission Boulevard between Stevenson Boulevard and Mowry Avenue when she mistakenly turned onto a set of railroad tracks near Stevenson Boulevard.
"She said it was dark and once she realized she was off the roadway, she looked for a place to turn her vehicle around," Bosques said. "She said there was no location to turn, so she just kept driving (south) on top of the tracks hoping she would eventually find a place to get off."
About a quarter mile north of Auto Mall, the tracks went from one set of tracks to two separate tracks, and her Accord became stuck at the switching mechanism, Bosques said.
That's when she dialed 911.
Shortly afterward, she saw a northbound commuter train approaching so that's when she began flashing her headlights to attract the attention of the conductor, who stopped the train, Bosques said.
Union Pacific Railroad stopped other trains in the area until police arrived to have the car towed off the railroad tracks, Bosques said.
The incident backed up commuter trains for about an hour-and-a-half.
The woman was neither injured nor cited, so police did not release her identity. But police have requested that the Department of Motor Vehicles re-evaluate her driving abilities, Bosques said.
Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469. Follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund.