NEW: Man who lay on tracks in front of Brightline train survived

Updated Feb 09, 2018
Brightline has placed electronic signs at some of the intersections of the FEC tracks. This sign on Lucerne in Lake Worth warns pedestrians to “stay off train tracks” and that there are “more & faster trains.” (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

A 48-year-old man was struck by a Brightline train and survived on Thursday after trying to kill himself by lying on the tracks as the company’s locomotive approached, authorities said.

The Broward County man, who was not identified by police, was hit by the train at about 8 p.m. along a section of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks in Wilton Manors. His injuries were not life-threatening, officials said.

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“Based on witness reports, this was an intentional act by an individual who laid on the tracks before the train approached,” Brightline in a statement Friday morning. “We appreciate the work of our team and first responders who acted quickly to remove him safely.”

The incident marks the fourth time in a month that a Brightline train has hit either a pedestrian or a bicyclist. The private rail venture began operating its express trains between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale in January. Service is expected to expand to Miami in the coming weeks.

Wilton Manors police said the man was walking southbound parallel to the tracks near the crossing at Northeast 24th Street, south of Oakland Park Boulevard, between Interstate 95 and Federal Highway, as the Brightline train approached.

“The man placed himself in the path of the train at which time he was struck,” Wilton Manors police said in a news release.

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Fire Rescue officials found the man under the train and took him to a hospital, a spokesman said.

“We remind everyone the FEC railway is private property and those entering onto this property without the permission from the FEC may be subject to arrest for trespassing,” Wilton Manors police said. “We also encourage everyone to use proper safety measures when they are near railroad tracks or see a train approaching.”

Brightline’s trains, which travel up to 79 mph through the downtown hubs of many of the county’s coastal cities and towns, have hit three other people since Jan. 12 — the day before the company began shuttling paying passengers.

Two of those people were killed. In all three incidents, police said those struck did not heed warning lights and crossing gates positioned at the intersections.

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On Jan. 12, 32-year-old Melissa Lavell was hit and killed near Northeast Sixth Avenue in Boynton Beach. Witnesses told police she attempted to beat the train when the gates were down.

On Jan. 17, 51-year-old Jeffrey King was hit and killed by a northbound Brightline train when he pedaled his bicycle about 4:30 p.m. around the gates near the FEC crossing at Ocean Avenue.

On Jan. 19, Steven Amoruso, 55, of Deerfield Beach survived being struck by a Brightline train as it traveled at a speed of 35-40 mph through the rail crossing in Fort Lauderdale.

Amoruso crossed over two of the three sets of train tracks on the FEC line before being hit by the northbound train. The crossing gates were down and the warning lights were flashing at the time he was struck, according to a police report.

Following the first two incidents, Brightline launched a series of safety and public-education features to educate the public about rail safety.