Following Thursday’s fatal incident in St. Lucie County involving a Brightline train, questions about the safety of the high-speed train are once again resurfacing.
At this time last week, Brightline was preparing for its first-ever train service that takes passengers from South Florida to Orlando. Friday marks one week of service.
Brightline’s expansion north last Friday was marked by a deadly incident in Delray Beach that ultimately delayed the first arriving train to Orlando.
Thursday marked another fatality when a person was struck and killed by a northbound train in St. Lucie County. The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said the victim was a homeless person who was trespassing on the tracks.
St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said there is a focus on safety.
“When you approach a railroad track, you should stop look and listen, and I think if you do that everyone will be safer,” Mascara said.
Brightline passengers getting on trains reacted to Thursday’s death.
“Unless you have some weird accident, it’s pretty safe,” one passenger said.
“It goes so quickly through those little intersections that some people just don’t really have an understanding of how that works out, but I’ll keep riding,” another passenger said. “I’m just not going to get anywhere near the tracks.”
According to an ongoing Associated Press analysis of federal data that began in 2019, the high-speed train has the highest death rate in the country.
Prior to these two most recent fatalities, the AP stated that 98 people had been fatally struck by the train. It’s important to note that in the AP analysis “none of the deaths have been found to be Brightlines fault,” citing suicides, drivers going around crossing gates and pedestrians running across tracks.
“In both of my cases, these were two individuals who were not in cars. One was on a bicycle,” Zedrick Barber II, an attorney representing the families of two people who died in Brightline incidents, said.
Barber is calling for more action.
“I don’t think it’s about what I think. I think statistics speak for themselves,” Barber said. “This is a monster of a train. It is a killer in motion, and there is certainly much more than can be done.”
WPTV contacted Brightline representatives for comment. They referred us to their safety initiatives, including a “Brightline Safety Pledge.”
The pledge reminds people of proper behavior around tracks and trains. That includes only crossing, where there are crossing signs, never crossing when a train is moving, and not trying to outrun a train among many other reminders.