Train fatally hits person on the tracks

A train fatally hit a person Monday morning on the tracks in North Berkeley, fire officials said.

A southbound Union Pacific train struck the pedestrian at 9:06 a.m. north of Gilman Street, near the Berkeley-Albany border, Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb said.

Initial reports were that the victim was male, Webb said.

The train came to a stop after the collision and was blocking Gilman, Camelia, Virginia and Cedar streets, which were expected to be closed until at least 11:15 a.m.

Trains in the area were stopped in both directions, Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham said.

Although the train involved in the collision was from Union Pacific, the tracks are shared with Amtrak passenger trains, Graham said.

Amtrak set up a bus bridge to take passengers between the Richmond and Berkeley stations, Graham said.

-- Kathleen Kirkwood, Bay City News


White Elephant Sale rakes in $1.88 million

The Oakland Museum Women's Board raised a record $1.88 million at the 55th annual White Elephant Sale held earlier this month.

The two-day event -- billed as the largest rummage sale in the Bay Area -- is a major fundraiser for the Oakland Museum of California.

"Our 55th White Elephant Sale was a huge success," said Rose Jellison, president of the Oakland Museum Women's Board. "We thank our generous donors and loyal shoppers for their support and credit our success -- as we have for more than 50 years -- to the hard work and dedication of our remarkable volunteers.

"Without the year-round efforts of so many of these tireless individuals, our White Elephant Sale and the funds it allows us to provide to the Oakland Museum of California would not be possible."

The board is already gearing up for next year's sale, which is slated for March 7-8.

The White Elephant Sale accepts donations of gently used, good quality items year round. To donate, a van is available for free pick up by calling 510-839-5919.

For more information, go to the website at

-- Staff


Female pedestrian dies in hit-and-run

A woman walking along a sidewalk near the downtown area was hit and killed by a pickup truck that ran off the road late Sunday night, and police said they are still looking for the driver.

Yolanda Tiscareno, 46, was walking on Willow Pass Road near N. Fifth Street about 11:45 p.m. when the truck hit her, according to police. She appears to have died instantly, Concord police Sgt. Ken Carlson said. Authorities said Tiscareno was a transient.

Police are asking the public to be on the lookout for a white Chevrolet pickup truck that a man was driving east on Willow Pass Road when the crash happened. The truck will have major front-end damage, Carlson said.

It was not known what caused the truck to run off the road, and police do not have a description of the driver.

Willow Pass Road was closed in the eastbound direction between N. Fifth and N. Sixth streets until about 6:15 a.m.

Anyone with information is urged to call police at 925-603-5931.

-- Rick Hurd, Staff


3 men rescue woman from burning home

Three men rescued an elderly woman from a burning home Monday morning in San Ramon, authorities said.

The trio saw smoke pouring from the home at 112 Scarboro Place at about 10:05 a.m., said Kimberly French, a spokeswoman for the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District. The men ran inside and carried the 94-year-old woman out of the home, French said.

The woman, who was home with her daughter at the time of the fire, was taken to a burn unit for treatment, authorities said. Her condition was not available. There were no other reports of injuries.

Fire crews extinguished the second alarm fire 45 minutes later, French said.

A fire department chaplain and the Red Cross are helping the displaced family with shelter.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

-- David DeBolt, Staff

bay area

Authorities, IRS warn about phone scam

Police departments throughout the Bay Area are warning residents about a prolific scam in which suspects pose as Internal Revenue Service agents and ask victims to pay outstanding taxes using a reloadable card.

In Pleasanton, local police have received multiple reports of callers who tell residents that they owe money to the IRS because of a discrepancy on their taxes, then ask them to go to a local store and purchase a reloadable card. The callers then ask the victims to provide the card and pin number to the caller.

Similar incidents have been reported in South San Francisco, with residents often believing the callers because they have access to their personal information, such as dates of birth.

In some cases, the callers even threatened arrest if the victims did not make payment.

One victim reportedly lost $2,000, police said.

"This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country," said IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. "Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a prepaid debit card or wire transfer."

Werfel added that IRS typically makes initial contact via email and never ask taxpayers for confidential PINs, passwords or access information to their credit card or bank.

"If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don't pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn't the IRS calling," Werfel said.

Anyone who owes taxes or has a payment issue should call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

-- Karina Ioffee, Staff