Terrace woman hit, killed by train

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Kali Fuda will never wear her red strapless prom dress.

She can’t finish her senior project, playing the Dave Matthew’s Band song "Crash" on guitar. Nor will she make it to beauty school, or choose from the names she’d scribbled down for the baby she wanted someday.

The Mountlake Terrace High School senior, 18, was hit by an Amtrak train Sunday while trying to cross railroad tracks in Golden Gardens Park in Seattle. The passenger train, bound from Seattle to Bellingham, was going about 35 mph through the north end of the park when it struck and killed her.

"She was coming right behind me," friend and next-door neighbor Ken Volpne, 19, said Monday. "And I turned around, and she was gone."

Volpne and three of Kali’s other friends were sitting on a parked freight train on the northbound tracks when that train started to move, he said. The sound of that train starting kept them from hearing the Amtrak engineer sounding the horn before coming around a blind corner.

"It was like it came out of absolutely nowhere," Volpne said. "She didn’t hear it, but even if she had, she couldn’t have done anything."

Kali’s boyfriend Cody McLemore, 18, said he clung to the freight train as the passing Amtrak train rushed by him less than a foot away. Before trying to cross the tracks, he’d kissed Kali and told her that she was beautiful.

"There’s nothing I’m not going to miss about her," McLemore said, adding the two wanted to get married someday and have kids. He wanted a boy. She wanted a girl.

Prior to the accident, the pair and their friends were hanging out enjoying the sunshine and wandering along the tracks by the beach.

"We never thought about trains coming," Volpne said. "We figured we’d have heard if they were."

They know different now and are warning others to stay off the tracks — for Kali.

"It only takes a second," said Colleen Webb, a family friend who was in the delivery room when Kali was born. "It seems like fun when we did it as kids, but it’s not worth the chance."

Kali was the seventh person to die since 1990 on the mile of track extending through Golden Gardens Park and to the north. Webb said the area needs to be fenced off. That won’t deter everyone, she said, but could prevent some deaths.

Webb shared memories of Kali with her relatives and friends Monday at the Mountlake Terrace home of Kali’s mother and stepfather, Keri and Al Deguero. Kali lived there, but also enjoyed spending time with father, Robert Fuda.

Kali, they said, was quick to find the humor in everything, the kind of person who could even make a trip to the grocery store fun.

She was looking forward to graduating soon. Afterward, she hoped to go to beauty school.

Kali loved doing hair, nails and makeup and would fix the hair of her younger sisters. Alexi and Gia, relatives said. Kali also had a younger brother, Dominic.

"She wouldn’t leave the house in her sweats," her aunt Tracie Ebel said. "She was like, ‘I can’t. What if someone sees me?’ "

Kali, who liked T-shirts and flared jeans, had straightened her naturally curly hair for her senior picture and was planning to get all dressed up in a gown she’d borrowed from a friend for the prom. The teenager, who collected everything Cinderella, was hoping for a dress just like the Disney character when she got married.

Her friends plan to get a tattoo in her memory of a star she’d drawn, her mother said. Mountlake Terrace seniors will do a slide show of photos of her at a senior breakfast this morning.

Kali was the 83rd person to die in Washington state while trespassing on railroad tracks in the past five years, said Gus Melonas, a spokesman for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, which operates the rail line.

The accident happened shortly before 6 p.m. Sunday, Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb said. The Amtrak engineer was going 15 miles slower than the posted 50 mph speed limit, he said.

"At no point in time is it a good idea to be on railroad tracks. These kind of tragedies are always preventable and always heartbreaking," he said. "So please stay off the tracks."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Reporter Katherine Schiffner: 425-339-3436 or

schiffner@heraldnet.com.

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