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Train kills man in apparent suicide
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A man was struck and killed Thursday morning by a train along a stretch of railroad tracks just south of Turlock, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department reported.

The sheriff’s department identified the man as Roger Ash, 47. His sister, Laura Dobbs, said he was from Peoria, Ariz. She said he was staying in Turlock with his wife through the run of the Stanislaus County Fair. His wife operates a temporary tattoo both at the fairgrounds.

Dobbs said she was told by the Merced County Coroner’s Office that Ash’s death was “a clear case of suicide.”

The incident occurred around 9 a.m. Thursday on the railroad tracks running parallel to Golden State Boulevard and near Griffith Road, said sheriff spokesman Deputy Tom MacKenzie.

The sheriff’s department said Ash was walking southbound along the railroad tracks. The Union Pacific train was traveling northbound. The train was only going about 15 to 17 mph because it had just stopped to let another train pass.

As the train was approaching Ash’s position, he suddenly threw himself into the path of the locomotive and was killed instantly, MacKenzie said. A camera inside the locomotive caught the incident on tape.

There were no other individuals with Ash at the time of his death.

Dobbs said the family was in complete shock over Ash’s death.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “He hadn’t shown any signs of being in distress.”

Dobbs said her brother ran Desert Acoustics, a home automation systems business. He had been married for 17 years and had two sons — a 15-year old and a 13-year old.

“He was a master mechanic and could fix anything,” Dobbs said. “He liked riding ATVs and taking out his boat and showing his 1965 Camero at car shows.”

The railroad tracks running through Turlock have been the site of three suicides in the last seven months. One death was at the end of December 2009 and the other happened in February of this year.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.