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A Florida man is in stable condition after suffering serious injuries in harrowing video that shows his car speed into the path of an oncoming train in Lake Worth Wednesday morning.
No one aboard the train suffered any injuries at the crossing just before 6 a.m., according to Brightline, the regional rail operator.
“This was a tragic yet preventable event and the direct result of an individual driving around the gates which were down, flashing and bells ringing, signaling an approaching train,” Brightline said in a statement Wednesday. “We implore the public to obey all warning signs around active railroad tracks, to always expect a train and to realize that these actions not only endanger the driver but our guests and crew.”
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The rail operator released video that appears to show a driver in a silver sedan fail to stop at the crossing and drive out onto the tracks just a second before impact. The train’s horn blares. The camera shakes and there’s a thudding sound. But the impact takes place below the lens’ field of view.
It takes about 30 seconds for the train to come to a complete stop.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office told West Palm Beach’s CBS 12 that the driver, identified as 55-year-old Luis Manuel Paez, allegedly drove around the safety gate and tried to beat the train.
Brightline is urging the public to take safety seriously following the morning crash and two recent fatalities involving people crossing at the wrong time.
Since November 2021, when the railroad reopened following a COVID-19 shutdown, nine people have died on Brightline crossings, according to FOX 13 Tampa.
Prior to the pandemic, The Associated Press reported that the high-speed line had the highest death rate per mile of track in the country, out of more than 800 railroads – however none of those were blamed on crew errors or faulty equipment. Most were suicides, while many involved people who thought they could beat the train across and couldn’t.
Fox News’ Sarah Rumpf and The Associated Press contributed to this report.