POMPANO BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A grandmother was injured and her 1-year-old grandson was not seriously hurt after a Brightline train struck a vehicle in Pompano Beach on the day the company officially resumed service following a 19-month hiatus.
7SkyForce hovered above the victims’ mangled car in the area of Northeast Third Street and Flagler Avenue, Monday morning.
“I think it’s a miracle that the baby and the lady are alive,” said an onlooker.
Pompano Beach Fire Rescue units responded to the scene after a southbound train struck the car that was on the tracks, at around 10 a.m.
According to witnesses, the driver was headed east on Northeast Third Street and made a right turn onto the tracks. None of the 53 passengers aboard the train were injured.
“For some reason, she turned right onto the railroad tracks,” said Pompano Beach Fire Rescue spokesperson Sandra King. “[She] literally drove her car on the railroad tracks.”
Surveillance video captured the car on the train tracks moments before impact.
Thankfully, the driver was able to get out of the way enough so that the train struck the rear of the vehicle.
“I ran out, and I looked over there. The car looked like it was totaled,” said witness Lewis Roberson.
The 71-year-old woman and the toddler were treated for minor injuries at the scene. The grandmother broke her collarbone, and the child is said to be OK.
Hassan Abid, who owns a vape shop near the crossing, said he has seen three vehicles struck by a train, with this being the first where someone survived.
“Two people died, yes, so she’s the first one to survive,” he said. “The lady just walked out of the car, literally. You just see her walk out, and there was also a baby in the car, and the baby was OK, too, so that’s a miracle.”
“I thought they were dead, actually, until they told me that was her getting out of the car,” said Roberson.
It remains unclear why the woman drove under the tracks in the first place.
“It’s unclear if she was trying to turn here, onto Flagler Avenue, in front of these businesses, and she just turned too soon, and the arms were not flashing when she got onto the railroad tracks,” said King.
According to Brightline officials, the southbound train was carrying the company’s president and other company officials.
“Everything operated as it was supposed to, at our great crossing,” said Brightline CEO Patrick Goddard. “The gates were down, the bells were ringing, the lights were on.”
The train was set to take part in a ceremony at the Fort Lauderdale station to commemorate the company’s return to service after a hiatus due to the pandemic.
“These are tragic reminders that the public needs to obey the law and obey those signals around our railroad,” said Goddard. “I understand that there was no fatality today, but it could easily have been.”
It remains to be seen whether or not anyone will be cited in the crash.
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