Two Members of Tower of Power Struck By Train In Oakland [UPDATED]

Tower of Power. (Artist photo)

UPDATE: Friday, Jan. 13 at 11am

Two members of the veteran Oakland R&B-funk band Tower of Power were in critical condition Thursday night after being struck by an Amtrak train near Jack London Square shortly before 8pm, according to several sources including a band spokesperson. They were scheduled to perform two sets at Yoshi's, the jazz club that borders the transit hub, and a venue where the band plays regularly.

"In an unfortunate accident tonight, two members of the award-winning group Tower Of Power, drummer David Garibaldi and current bassist Marc Van Wageningen, were struck by a train in California," said their publicist, Jeremy Westby, in a statement. "Both men are responsive and being treated at a local hospital in Oakland.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the accident occurred when Garibaldi, Van Wageningen, and two other pedestrians tried to cross the train tracks while the guard arms were down, possibly because they thought the warning was for a slow freight train that had just passed. An Amtrak train was coming at about 25 mph from the other direction on a different track, Oakland Police Sgt. Aaron Smith told the Chronicle. The other two people were apparently able to jump out of the way before the two musicians were struck.

Sheila E., the legendary drummer and frequent Tower of Power collaborator, sent out a call for well wishes on Twitter.

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Tower of Power helped put the Bay Area on the soul-funk map in the '70s, rising to international fame alongside fellow Oakland natives Sly and the Family Stone. Though the band also experienced its greatest commercial success in that decade, Tower of Power has continued touring extensively up through the present with a rotating cast of members. After several shows at Yoshi's, their next scheduled show on this tour was Jan. 20 at a Harrah's casino in Laughlin, Nevada.

Garibaldi originally joined Tower of Power on drums in 1970, sometimes taking breaks from the band, but generally considered a lifetime member. Van Wageningen had recently stepped in to relieve founding bassist Francis "Rocco" Prestia, who has battled health issues in recent years.

UPDATE: Founding member Emilio Castillo released a statement characterizing the band members as being in "serious condition," but expected to recover. From the bandleader's Facebook post:

"I was at the hospital last night and saw David but Marc was in intensive care and I wasn't able to see him. Dave's head and face were pretty swollen and bruised but he was lucid and expected to recover. Marc came through surgery well; his internal bleeding was stopped and they were waiting for him to stabilize in order to do further testing. The doctors were cautiously optimistic. We appreciate the responses and prayers from our former bandmates, friends, and fans and we all remain hopeful and in prayer."

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