Florida train slams car onto tracks, driver in stable condition as rail company warns: ‘Tragic but preventable’
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A Florida man is in stable condition after sustaining serious injuries in harrowing video that shows his car speeding into the path of an oncoming train in Lake Worth on Wednesday morning.
No one on the train was injured at the crossing just before 6 a.m., according to Brightline, the regional train operator.
“This was a tragic but preventable event and the direct result of an individual bypassing the doors which were down, flashing and ringing bells, signaling an approaching train,” Brightline said in a statement Wednesday. . “We implore the public to obey all warning signs around active train tracks, to always expect a train, and to realize that these actions endanger not only the driver, but also our guests and our crew.”
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The train operator has released video which appears to show a driver in a silver sedan failing to stop at the level crossing and rolling onto the tracks just a second before impact. The train horn sounds. The camera shakes and there is a thud. But the impact takes place below the objective’s field of vision.
It takes about 30 seconds for the train to come to a complete stop.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office told CBS 12 West Palm Beach that the driver, identified as Luis Manuel Paez, 55, allegedly bypassed the guardrail and attempted to ram the train.
Brightline is urging the public to take safety seriously after the morning crash and two recent deaths involving people crossing at the wrong time.
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Since November 2021, when the railroad reopened following a COVID-19 shutdown, nine people have died at Brightline crossings, according to FOX 13 Tampa.
Before the pandemic, the Associated Press reported that the high-speed line had the highest fatality rate per mile of track in the country, out of more than 800 railroads – but none of them were blamed to crew errors or faulty equipment. Most were suicides, while many involved people who thought they could cross the train and couldn’t.
Sarah Rumpf of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.