A couple who helped a man who lost part of his leg after being hit by a train in Berkeley earlier this month has set up a fund to collect donations for his medical care.
Shelly Jones, 27, and Sean Stallmeyer, 29, were driving in West Berkeley when they witnessed the accident on Oct. 7.
They were driving toward Target at about 10:40 a.m. when they stopped for the southbound Union Pacific train to pass. As the gates came down to halt traffic, Stallmeyer said he saw a man with a shopping cart standing between the north- and southbound tracks.
The man appeared to be trying to get across the tracks, and seemed to have cleared them. But he didn’t make it far enough. “The arms came down. I think he just froze,” said Stallmeyer.” The force of the train just knocked him over. He tumbled down. He must have just fallen underneath the train.”
Stallmeyer said it appeared that the wind from the train, which barreled through at what seemed like 80 mph, seemed to suck the man back into the train’s path. The man lost his leg below the knee as a result of the accident.
Stallmeyer said he used the belt of a woman who called 911 after the accident to fashion a tourniquet until paramedics arrived and took the man to the hospital.
The couple identified the victim as Mark Schwartz, a homeless man and beat poet who ran for mayor of Berkeley in 2012. According to a Berkeleyside profile from 2012, he has written 13 books of poetry and holds an engineering degree from Cornell University. Schwartz has been active in landlord-tenant issues and often visited the Berkeley City Council prior to the accident to speak during public comment. He has spoken out against anti-sit ordinances, and changes to West Berkeley zoning.
According to a statement released Monday, Schwartz remains in the hospital, where he had surgery and is recovering.
Stallmeyer and Jones said they wanted to do more than offer “on-the-spot assistance.”
“We started contacting organizations because we just want to make sure he gets what he needs,” said Jones, according to the written statement. “After seeing what we saw, we feel connected to him.”
At the couple’s request, Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) has set up a fund to collect donations for Schwartz. One hundred percent of any money collected will be used to help pay for health care, hospice and other recovery costs.
BOSS is a local nonprofit organization that provides shelter and housing, health and mental health care, job search assistance, and other services to homeless individuals and families across Alameda County.
To donate, send a check made out to ‘BOSS’ to: BOSS, Attn: Mark’s Fund, 2065 Kittredge St., Suite E, Berkeley CA 94704 or donate online.
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