(Editor's note: David Garibaldi has related to a friend of NSMD that he is OK with only a few broken bones. He says Marc was is worse condition and had to have surgery but word is that both will pull through)
Two members of the local soul, R&B band, Tower of Power, were struck by an Amtrak train at Oakland's Jack London Square Thursday night, according to the group's manager.
Two members of longtime Oakland rhythm and blues band Tower of Power were hit by a train in Oakland near Jack London Square on Thursday night minutes before a scheduled show at Yoshi’s.
Longtime drummer David Garibaldi and bassist Marc Van Wageningen were struck by an Amtrak train passing outside the popular venue shortly before their show that was scheduled for 8 p.m., said Jeremy Westby, a publicist for the group, which has been performing since the late 1960s.
Both men were taken to the hospital in critical condition after the accident, said Sgt. Aaron Smith of the Oakland Police Department. A group of four people tried to cross the tracks — while the warning guard arms were still down — toward Yoshi’s after a freight train slowly chugged by, Smith said.
But the pedestrians didn’t see the Amtrak train traveling about 25 mph from the opposite direction on another track, he said. Two were able to jump out of the way, but Garibaldi and Van Wageningen were not.
Both men were rushed to nearby Highland Hospital in critical condition, Smith said. Both regained consciousness at the hospital, Westby said.
Both of their scheduled shows at Yoshi’s — an annual affair — were canceled after the accident, said Hal Campos, the club’s general manager.
Though Campos said he didn’t see the train strike, he ran out when he heard the shouts and called 911. Both men got hit by the train and thrown through the air in opposite directions, he said, based on multiple witness accounts.
“The only thing that went through my mind was, ‘Is he OK? Is he going to come out of this 100 percent?’” Campos said, adding that they were unconscious when he found them.
The train that hit the men was a Capitol Corridor commuting line that runs between Sacramento and San Jose, said an Amtrak spokeswoman.
Witnesses told police that the train’s operator was sounding the horn when the accident occurred, Smith said.
Known for its hard-driving horn section, Tower of Power now has 10 members, with more than 50 past musicians among its ranks. The band’s hits include “You’re Still a Young Man” and “What is Hip?,” which was co-written by Garibaldi. He joined the band in 1970.
The group’s performance at Yoshi’s is always an anticipated annual highlight for the venue and the band’s fans, Campos said.
Though he didn’t know the two men personally, he said the band was “like family” to Yoshi’s, a place it has been playing as long as most anyone can remember. The band members were headed from a hotel nearby when the train struck, he said.
“The shows were canceled and all that, but that doesn’t matter,” Campos said. “We’ll refund our customers. But what matters here is their lives".