BART deaths

A BART police officer looks out of a train car that struck and killed two people along Jones Road in Walnut Creek, Calif. (Dan Rosenstrauch / MCT)

Bay Area transit officials expressed their condolences Saturday over the deaths of two maintenance workers who were killed when they hit by a BART train as they conducted a routine track inspection on the second day of a transit strike.

"This is a tragic day in BART's history,” Grace Crunican, general manager of the public transit system, said in a prepared statement. “The entire BART family is grieving. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of our deceased co-workers. This accident is under investigation. All the proper authorities have been notified."

The accident occurred about 1:50 p.m. on the track between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations, BART officials said. The victims were not immediately identified.

At the time of the accident, the workers were performing inspections in response to a report of a dip in the track, officials said. The deceased were a BART employee and a contractor.

Both people had extensive experience working around moving trains in both the freight train and the rapid transit industry, officials said.

The train was on a routine maintenance run with an experienced operator at the controls, officials said. The train was being run in automatic mode under computer control.

But some trains were being moved by managers, according to an Associated Press report.

“It makes us nervous to know that managers are out there running the trains,” Des Patten, a spokesman for SEIU Local 1021, said in an interview.

Transit workers went on strike Friday after a weak of marathon negotiations broke down over salaries and benefits. BART, the nation's fifth-largest transit system, carries about 400,000 round-trip passengers each workday.

The breakdown between Bay Area Rapid Transit and its two main unions came after 33 hours of continuous talks and a week of stops and starts.

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louis.sahagun@latimes.com