FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Officials in Florida say a 60-year-old man intentionally lay down on the tracks just before being struck and injured by a new high-speed train Thursday night.
The man, whose name hasn’t been released, was taken to a hospital where officials said he was treated for injuries that weren’t considered life threatening. He is the fourth person struck by a Brightline train, which began service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in January.
In January, two people were killed and a third was injured by the train. Two others — one ruled a suicide and the other an accident — died during test runs of the privately-funded train last year.
The man injured Thursday night suffered a broken arm, fire officials told local news outlets.
Debbie Sanacore of West Palm Beach told the SunSentinel that she saw him being loaded onto a stretcher.
“He seemed OK and was speaking to the paramedics,” she said.
The company embarked on a public awareness campaign before starting the 40-mile (64-kilometer) route, running TV, radio and print ads and holding community events to emphasize the need for pedestrians and drivers to be alert, not cross at unguarded spots and not go around security gates that lower as the trains approach.
Patrick Goddard, Brightline’s COO and president, said in a statement in January that the company continues to work with transportation officials to spread the word about the train, which travels in excess of 70 mph (112 kph).
“We implore the public to be patient and not circumvent the safety devices in place to keep you safe,” Goddard said. “Your life is worth more than waiting a few extra seconds for a train to pass.”
The incidents grabbed the attention of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and others who question Brightline’s safety.
Earlier this week, the Miami Herald reported that Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez asked the Florida Department of Transportation to evaluate safety measures in place at railroad crossings before the high-speed train expands its route south to Miami. The Miami Central Station is under construction and expected to be completed later this year. The train will eventually run from Miami to Orlando.
The company said in a statement that all public at-grade crossings along the FEC Railway corridor in Brightline’s operating route have “comprehensive safety infrastructure in place, including gates, constant warning time (predictor systems), bells, flashing red lights and signage.”
Across the country, 831 people died when accidentally struck by trains — 69 of them in Florida — during the first 10 months of 2017, the Federal Railroad Administration reports. Another 143 died by suicide during that period. Accidental deaths jumped from 2016, when there were 736 the entire year and 266 by suicide. Most accidents happen when people ignore bells and gates, or while cutting across tracks between crossings.
In South Florida, Brightline’s president has said any measures the company takes can’t be successful without the public’s help.
“Don’t race the train,” Goddard said.