Broward County

Pedestrian injured in Brightline crash, sixth case since last year

A Brightline train hit a pedestrian Thursday evening in Wilton Manors, the sixth crash involving the South Florida passenger rail line since it began testing its trains last year.

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The unidentified person was taken to Broward General Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, said Jennifer Bickhardt, a spokeswoman for Wilton Manors Police.

The crash happened just before 8 p.m. in the 1200 block of Northeast 24th Street. The area has been blocked off for the investigation.

It was not immediately clear if the safety gates were down when the accident occurred, Bickhardt said. Brightline could not be immediately reached for comment.

Fire officials told NBC6 the man lay in between the tracks, not across the tracks, which is how the train rolled over him without killing him.

The private rail line, which debuted in South Florida in early January, has now been involved in four fatalities and two non-fatal accidents since it began testing the train in 2017. In the previous incidents, a pedestrian or bicyclist has either attempted to cross the train tracks when a train was approaching or stood on the tracks, police said. The most recent case came on Jan. 19, when a man was injured crossing the tracks in Fort Lauderdale.

In each case, Brightline said its safety measures were not to blame. The trains can reach speeds of 79 mph.

In the coming months, Brightline will expand service from its current Fort Lauderdale-to-West Palm Beach route to include Miami-Dade County.

County Mayor Carlos Gimenez last month requested that the Florida Department of Transportation conduct a safety review of the county’s portion of the Florida East Coast Railway, on which Brightline will soon travel. Currently, much slower freight trains operate on the tracks.

Florida’s two U.S. senators, Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Bill Nelson, have called for a federal safety review of Brightline’s operation, and the company has responded by formally inviting the politicians to tour their facility themselves.

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