Thomas (Tom) McGrann, a fixture in Fremont known for his gregarious and generous nature — who locals might associate with his constant neighborhood walks with his Golden Retriever Lucy and later, his partner’s Australian cattle dogs — was struck and killed by a commuter train April 27 in Del Mar, Calif., while taking care of a client’s black Labrador. He was 42.
McGrann lived with his partner, Kim Murray, in a condo near downtown Fremont — where the two were regulars at the Fremont Sunday Farmers Market, PCC and ToST — and had just arrived in Del Mar that morning to spend a week pet-sitting for a longtime landscaping client. He was scheduled to fly back to Seattle tonight.
Police and news reports from the San Diego area show that he was crossing the rails when a northbound Coaster locomotive approached at about 50 mph shortly after 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the county Medical Examiner’s Office.
The client told Murray that McGrann was in the heart of downtown Del Mar in a pedestrian zone and more than likely listening to music on his headphones and unable to hear the train’s warning bells as the train approached. The client told her she had previously complained about that train and its fast approach around the curve, at that very spot.
McGrann and the dog cleared the tracks, but because the commuter train was four feet wider on either side of the tracks, it clipped him. He died at the scene. The dog survived – a relief to Murray and other friends who knew how much animals meant to him.
“Our worst fear was that the last thing Tom saw was the realization that the dog was in trouble,” Murray said. “As hard as it was to lose him, it was poetic that he died doing what he loved. You know he was happy.”
Murray said a celebration of McGrann’s life is planned within the next few weeks. He is also survived by his parents, Richard and Jan McGrann, of Scottsdale, Az.; a brother, Mark; and a sister, Cathy.
We’ll write more about McGrann later this week as we talk with his family and friends.