7:12 PM (BCN): Police are investigating the death of a 58-year-old man who may have been hit by a San Francisco Municipal Railway light-rail vehicle this morning.

Emergency responders found the man, identified by the San Francisco medical examiner’s office as William Nelson, on the ground near the intersection of Church and 22nd streets shortly after 9 a.m., police Sgt. Wilfred Williams said.

He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 9:29 a.m., Williams said.

Muni officials said this evening that investigators have reviewed onboard video and that a man resembling Nelson got off an outbound S-Castro shuttle shortly before the accident.

The man exited the shuttle at a Muni stop just before Church and 22nd streets and appears to have walked 20-30 feet alongside the train, according to Muni.

The light-rail vehicle then began to move and it appears the man fell, as he is no longer visible in the video, according to the transit agency. Muni officials are withholding the video from the public for the time being in order to protect the Police Department’s investigation.

The video indicates that passengers on the rear of the train seemed to know something had happened, but that no one alerted the Muni operator, according to Muni. The operator did not report the incident to Muni Central Control.

San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency executive director Nathaniel Ford offered his condolences to Nelson’s loved ones.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends,” Ford said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with the police on this investigation to get to the bottom of what happened.”

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call San Francisco police at (415) 553-1641.

Service was disrupted on Muni’s J-Church line for nearly three hours after the man was found.

6:00 PM: True (heh) to his word, MTA spokesperson Judson True sent a statement that appears to dispute the Examiner/NBC’s account of events. Here it is:

According to the San Francisco Police Department, a witness reported finding an injured male at 9:08 a.m. on the Muni light rail right-of-way near the intersection of Church and 22nd streets.

The 58 year-old male was transported to San Francisco General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:29 a.m. The SFPD has not released the name of the man pending notification of his next of kin.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., Executive Director/CEO of the SFMTA. “We will continue to work closely with the police on this investigation to get to the bottom of what happened.”

The SFMTA has retrieved and reviewed onboard video that appears to show that a man resembling the man who died got off on an outbound (southbound) Muni S-Castro Shuttle LRV shortly before the injured man was found by a witness. The video shows the man getting off of the LRV through the rear doors at a designated stop along the Muni right-of-way just before the intersection of Church and 22nd streets. The man walks approximately 20-30 feet alongside the LRV in the same direction (south). The LRV begins to move and while the man is walking he appears to fall and is no longer visible in the video.

The San Francisco Police Department’s ongoing investigation prevents the SFMTA from publicly releasing the video at this time.

In the video, witnesses on the rear of the train appear to have noticed that something had happened, but there is no indication that anyone alerted the Muni Operator, and the Operator did not make a report to Muni Central Control.

There were a number of passengers on the LRV who have not been identified. Anyone with any information about this incident is urged to call the San Francisco Police Department Hit and Run Detail (which handles serious and fatal traffic investigations) at 415.553.1641.

5:09 PM: A late-afternoon stroll through our RSS feeds got us this NBC story (note that the controversial NBC emotionmeter does not register any feelings from readers. Apathy is terrible!) which links to this Examiner story describes this accident as a “Man was struck by Muni” one, citing (in the Ex’s case) “a witness.”

As we noted below, we did receive a tip from a reader suggesting something similar, but after checking in with MTA spokesperson Judson True, we were not able to confirm that this (as yet unidentified) man’s death was indeed a result of being struck by a train. It’s also worth noting that the Chronicle’s Rachel Gordon takes a more conservative approach, saying “It is unknown whether a Muni light-rail car struck the man.” in a report most recently updated at 1:34 today.

In any case, we’ve emailed True again, who told us he is “close to sending out a statement.” So we’ll update you soon.

12:29 PM: In response to the tip in our previous update, True responds “This (that is, the details he provided below) is what I’ve got right now.” He also urges anyone who might have specific information, or was a witness, to call the SFPD at 553-0123.

12:15 PM: MTA spokesperson Judson True says that service has been restored as of 12:05. True confirms the Bay City News report we ran below, saying that “a witness reported finding an injured male at 9:08 a.m. on the Muni light rail right of way near the intersection of Church Street and 22nd Street.”

According to True, the cause of death is still being determined, and that Muni “is assisting the SFPD in the ongoing investigation to determine whether or not a Muni vehicle was involved.”

However, a tipster tells us

“I just got a call from REDACTED saying that the J church incident involved a dude dying because they got hit by the J line…possibly between the inbound and outbound cars…”

We’ve emailed True to see if he has any details he can share with us to debunk/confirm this tip, and will let you know what we hear.

12:07 PM (BCN): A 58-year-old man died after being found between a curb and San Francisco Municipal Railway light-rail tracks this morning, police Sgt. Wilfred Williams said.

At 9:08 a.m., authorities received a call about a possible accident. Emergency responders found the man on the ground near the intersection of Church and 22nd streets, Williams said.

The man was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 9:29 a.m., Williams said.

The cause of death has not been determined, and police are investigating the incident, he said

Service was disrupted on Muni’s J-Church line for nearly three hours because of the incident, but spokesman Judson True said that service was being restored as of 11:45 a.m.

9:58 AM: Muni tells us that “As of 9:09 a.m., regular light rail service on the J Church has been disrupted because of police activity on Church Street at 22nd Street.”

Shuttle buses are on the case, and we’re trying to figure out what the police activity is now. Do you know anything?

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • Brock Keeling

    Dude!

  • Brock Keeling

    Dude!

  • LibertyHiller

    Note from a resident and frequent J-rider: There’s almost no clearance on the J-Church right-of-way; this applies to PCCs and Bredas alike. The outbound platform at 22nd and Church is also very narrow; in footprint it’s probably the same dimensions as the original layout from 1917.

    It’s also become slightly more confusing than usual for casual passengers, because the 21st/Chattanooga outbound stop (which is the stop previous to 22d/Church) now has a platform in the right-of-way, one that is used by about half of the streetcars that go through there; the remainder continue to stop in the middle of 21st itself. If I were to make an educated guess, I suspect the deceased signaled early, realized he got out at the wrong stop, and decided to follow the ROW to 22nd instead of going downhill and up again.

    I see a lot of pedestrians and bicyclists using the right-of-way; I’ve also seen a few Muni fare inspectors writing tickets for doing this. I’m not going to scold anyone else for encroaching on the ROW, because I do it myself once in a great while, but at least I have the cunning to do so at a time with light service and with full awareness that I’m putting myself in harm’s way, and making myself subject to a fine. Sometimes a bad knee and asthma defy common sense, I guess.

  • LibertyHiller

    Note from a resident and frequent J-rider: There’s almost no clearance on the J-Church right-of-way; this applies to PCCs and Bredas alike. The outbound platform at 22nd and Church is also very narrow; in footprint it’s probably the same dimensions as the original layout from 1917.

    It’s also become slightly more confusing than usual for casual passengers, because the 21st/Chattanooga outbound stop (which is the stop previous to 22d/Church) now has a platform in the right-of-way, one that is used by about half of the streetcars that go through there; the remainder continue to stop in the middle of 21st itself. If I were to make an educated guess, I suspect the deceased signaled early, realized he got out at the wrong stop, and decided to follow the ROW to 22nd instead of going downhill and up again.

    I see a lot of pedestrians and bicyclists using the right-of-way; I’ve also seen a few Muni fare inspectors writing tickets for doing this. I’m not going to scold anyone else for encroaching on the ROW, because I do it myself once in a great while, but at least I have the cunning to do so at a time with light service and with full awareness that I’m putting myself in harm’s way, and making myself subject to a fine. Sometimes a bad knee and asthma defy common sense, I guess.