MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A longtime staff member of the Minnesota Senate was killed after being struck by a Green Line light rail train on her way to work Thursday morning.

Lynne Thomas had been a legislative assistant in the Senate for 28 years. She was crossing University Avenue on the light rail tracks when she was hit and killed by a train around 7:30 a.m.

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Her death has affected everyone at the State Capitol. The day’s Senate meeting took on a very different tone, as Sen. Tom Bakk led a moment of silence for Thomas.

“When we took that moment of silence on the Senate floor, I think that’s what everyone was thinking about,” State Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Mary’s Point, said. “In a moment’s notice, your whole life can change.”

Thomas joined the Senate in 1987, working in the office for Senate Counsel Research and Fiscal Analysis.

Department Director Tom Bottern worked with Thomas for 18 years.

“Lynn was the face who greeted me when I walked in the door on my very first job interview,” Bottern said.

When Thomas’ desk was empty Thursday morning, a staff member called her cell phone. A Regions Hospital employee picked up, informing them of the accident.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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Witnesses say they saw Thomas digging through her purse on the tracks before she was hit.

“They tried to recover her, they tried to resuscitate her and everything, nothing,” witness Debra Besley said.

Gov. Mark Dayton released a statement Thursday about Thomas’ passing.

“My heart goes out to the family and friends of Lynne Thomas for their sudden and tragic loss. I also extend my deepest condolences to all of the Senators and staff in the Minnesota Senate family,” Dayton said.

Bottern says Thomas was “the face of the office.”

“She was part of the place, so when you walk in and, you know, she’s not here, it’s just going to seem so different,” Bottern said.

Thomas was taken to Regions Hospital but later died.

Train service was disrupted for about an hour Thursday morning. This is the first fatal accident this year involving a Green Line train

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Another woman was hit and killed by the train last summer at the Westgate Station, which is right on the border of St Paul and Minneapolis.

Kate Raddatz