Officials warn public of train safety after 2 fatally struck within a week by Brightline trains

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Officials are offering words of warning to the public days after two people were struck and killed by the new Brightline train.

The new Brightline train is faster and more aerodynamic than the freight trains that used to run on the tracks, which people aren’t used to.

There have been four deaths in total, but officials said that these incidents could be prevented.

Although there are warnings like the flashing red rights, the bell and the lowered crossing guard, people can still be seen trying to outrun the train.

“That train is obviously moving at a very fast rate of speed,” said Pompano Beach Fire Rescue Chief John Jurgle. “It is extremely heavy. It cannot stop on a dime.”

Four people have been hit by the high-speed train over the last few months.

On Wednesday, bicyclist Jeffrey King was killed in Boynton Beach. His death came just five days after a 32-year-old woman was also struck and killed in the same area.

King’s mother, Shirley Folson, spoke fondly of her son. “He cared about everybody, and everybody cared about him,” she said. “Everybody that he came in contact with loved my son. And my son loved me.”

His family has since hired an attorney. “There are a lot of unknowns at this point,” said attorney Zedrick Barber. “What we do know is that Brightline is responsible for the functionality of its railways and the safeguards attached to it.”

“Most of these accidents are occurring because people are going around the crossing guards,” Jurgle said. “They’re an engineered technology to prevent people from crossing the train tracks when a train is coming.”

Senator Bill Nelson has gotten involved. He sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation to look at the recent deaths around the tracks.

Metropolitan Planning Organization, along with Brightline, has spent millions of dollars to upgrade the equipment at the crossings.

“Now we actually have quad gates, and you have pedestrian gates that have gone in,” said Greg Stuart with Metropolitan Planning Organization, “so we’ve made a lot of investment.”

MPO, Brightline and the Florida East Coast Railway will now monitor the timing on the gates and plan to reeducate the public about staying safe near the tracks.

“There’s gonna be some adjustments along the way, but we have to work together to educate. You’re not going to beat a train,” Stuart said.

MPO and Brightline said they are willing to invest in educating the public about how fast these trains can go and the safety precautions that need to be taken.

Copyright 2020 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.