City College Tragedy

Photography student killed in train accident

Originally published in the Dec. 11, 2012 print edition of the Sac City Express

Photo courtesy of Pat Soberanis.

Photo courtesy of Pat Soberanis.

A City College student and St. Francis High School visual arts teacher died Dec. 8 when she was hit by a Union Pacific train just before 3 p.m. while taking photographs near 65th Street and Elvas Avenue in Sacramento.

Kathryn Mary Carlisle, 52, was reportedly hit from behind by the train while she was on the tracks taking photos of an oncoming train, according to Sacramento police. Carlisle was a student in City College’s Multimedia Capture course and a faculty member at St. Francis since 2008. She taught art, painting, sculpture and photography, according to a statement on the St. Francis website from school president Margo Reid Brown.

“I really don’t know what to say, I’m stunned and greatly saddened,” said City College photography professor Randy Allen, who taught Carlisle in his multimedia class this semester. “Kathy was a unique and wonderful person, a very talented student. She was taking my class to learn skills she could pass to her own students at St. Francis. It was easy to see she cared deeply for her students and loved teaching.”

Carlisle was married to Steve Jarvis and leaves behind three children. Two of her children, Will and Bianca, are in college and Violet is a freshman at St. Francis, said Brown.

“She had a family, it’s near the holidays,” said Doug Arnold, a former classmate of Carlisle’s in Introduction to Digital Photography at City College. “I can only imagine how devastating it must be for them.”

In addition to taking classes at City College, Carlisle took classes at Sacramento State.

“I found her to be dedicated and enthusiastic,” said Jim McMahen, who knew Carlisle from classes at City College. “She was a teacher, also, and she was very student-oriented. She was taking classes to make herself a better person and teacher.”

Several City College students left messages on Allen’s multimedia course Facebook page expressing how much Carlisle meant to them and giving support to her family and friends.

“Kathy Carlisle was my classmate in two photography classes at Sac City, where I witnessed her incredible artistry and felt her vibrant spirit,” said fellow multimedia classmate Pat Soberanis. “She had so much passion for her work. I was amazed to learn she was just as devoted to her three children and her many students.”

City College student and Photography Department lab technician Nick Hunte said he was shocked by the tragic accident that happened to Carlisle, a fellow student who was always excited to learn something new.

“The Sac City community and St. Francis community lost someone great and someone so accomplished,” said Hunte. “She could have accomplished so much more. It is very tragic.”

Carlisle was an award-winning photographer and was involved in visual arts around the community. She taught a visual and performing arts class, which focused on the Holocaust. She also produced several local Holocaust exhibitions, according to the Bee.

“Kathy was a passionate artist, and dedicated teacher to her students,” said Brown in her statement. “She possessed the ability to teach students to connect to their audience through art and showed them the incredible power of photography to tell a story or convey a message.”

According to Brown, classes at St. Francis were canceled on Dec. 10 and a remembrance session for Carlisle was held for students, staff, faculty and parents. There is a memorial that has been set up on campus for members of the school who want to pay respects to Carlisle.

The City College community expressed sadness, as well.

“We’re always sad when we hear about something like this happening to one of our students,” said City College President Kathryn Jeffery. “The impact of this accident is considerable on the students who had a chance to work with Kathy and get to know her.”

Soberanis described the shock and loss of losing Carlisle.

“It’s hard to believe she’s no longer on this earth, leaving warmth and smiles in her wake,” said Soberanis. “We will miss her so much.”

A memorial location has been set up on the St. Francis High School campus at the Virgin Mary in Serra Court.

For a full statement from SCC President Kathryn Jeffery, visit:

Additional reporting by Jessica Rine. 

About Daniel Wilson

Daniel has been a writer for over 25 years and recently earned his Bachelor's degree in journalism. Portfolio:
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