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Two members of famed R&B group Tower of Power hit by train

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Two members of Tower of Power, a group that has been an R&B institution for nearly 50 years, were hit by a train as they walked across tracks before a performance in their hometown of Oakland, but both survived, their publicist said.

Calling it an “unfortunate accident,” publicist Jeremy Westby said in a statement that drummer David Garibaldi and bass player Marc van Wageningen are “responsive and being treated at a local hospital.”

Garibaldi has been with the group since 1970. Van Wageningen is substituting as bass player.

“We are monitoring their situation directly with the hospital,” band manager Tom Consolo said. “We will update everyone tomorrow but for tonight we ask that you send your prayers.”

Without identifying them, the Oakland Fire Department said that two pedestrians were hit by a passenger train at Jack London Square about 7:30 p.m. Thursday and taken to a hospital.

The accident was near Yoshi’s, a jazz and R&B club where the group had been scheduled to play two shows Thursday night. Both were canceled.

Yoshi’s General Manager Hal Campos told CBS San Francisco Bay Area he called 911 and stayed with the two injured men until help came. They were both unconscious and appeared to have broken bones, Campos said.

“We don’t know if they didn’t hear the train. We don’t know how this tragedy happened but we’re very, very sad about this. The band is emotionally destroyed … all of us worked with them for days now and many years, it’s really sad,” Campos said.

It wasn’t clear why the men were on the tracks, but pedestrians often need to cross them in the area with trains running across and in between streets, including right outside Yoshi’s.

Tower of Power, a band of about a dozen members, most of them horns, has been beloved members of the R&B and pop communities since forming in Oakland in 1968. The group and its rotating cast of musicians have recorded behind many far more famous names including Elton John, Otis Redding, Aerosmith and Santana.

They were also a national TV fixture in the 1980s with frequent appearances on “Late Night With David Letterman.”

Tributes and well wishes were quickly emerging on Twitter, including one from pop star and drummer Sheila E., who tweeted “Pleez pray for my frenz.”

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