Brian Bennion Taylor, 19, a former Eagle Scout and varsity wrestler at Palo Alto's Gunn High School, was killed Friday night on the Caltrain tracks near the spot where four teenagers committed suicide last year.
Taylor's name was officially released by the Santa Clara County coroner's office. Taylor was killed in Palo Alto by a southbound train at around 11:45 p.m., about 150 yards north of the Caltrain crossing at East Meadow Drive, said Christine Dunn, a spokeswoman for Caltrain.
The incident is being investigated by transit police in the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.
The medical examiner won't determine the cause of Taylor's death until at least Monday, but Taylor's mother, Marian, said she believes he committed suicide.
Taylor had been diagnosed with and was being treated for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
"We are so sad at the passing of our son," Taylor's mother wrote in an e-mail message to Media News, "but we are grateful for our faith in a loving God and we treasure every moment of the almost 20 years we had with him."
Three Gunn High School students and an incoming freshman committed suicide by walking in front of moving trains at the East Meadow Drive crossing last year.
In an effort to prevent more deaths, residents formed TrackWatch, a volunteer group that keeps an eye on a crossing south of the one at East Meadow.
Meanwhile, the Palo Alto Police Department last month hired
'A good kid'
Taylor, the eldest of nine siblings, graduated from Gunn in 2008. He was a varsity member of the school's wrestling and tennis teams, he mother said. He was also named homecoming prince his senior year, served as the service chair for the Gunn student body, held many youth leadership meetings at his church, and received a presidential service award for recording 250 community service hours in a year, she said.
His mother also said he was an avid reader and a bright student as a child and held summer jobs that ranged from a ranch hand to a law assistant.
After graduating, Taylor attended Brigham Young University, but left before completing a year there because of his mental illness.
"His acute illness affected every aspect of his life," his mother said.
Taylor was a hard worker and very athletic, said Gunn tennis coach Jim Gorman.
"He was a good kid and a good player," Gorman said.
Gunn's principal, Noreen Likins, and Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Skelly did not return calls seeking comment. Caroline Camhy, a volunteer coordinator for TrackWatch, declined to comment.
An Admiral Security guard was at the crossing at the time of the incident, but he was too far away to see anything, Dunn said. Admiral CEO Mohamed Ahmed didn't know which guard was on duty, but said the guard is cooperating with the police and is expected to file a report on the incident by today.
"There's not much information he can provide" because the incident was so far away, Ahmed said. He added that patrolling the tracks in the area is "a really difficult situation."
Friday night's death was the first pedestrian fatality on the Caltrain tracks this year. Last year 19 deaths were reported.
Mercury News staff writer Bruce Newman contributed to this report. Contact Troy Wolverton at 408-920-5021.