Tri-Rail train hits, kills person in West Palm Beach, passengers report

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 11:30 AM EDT
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For the second time in a matter of hours on Tuesday, another train has hit and killed a person in Palm Beach County.

Passengers on board a northbound Tri-Rail train said they were told the train struck a trespasser around 10 a.m. on Summit Boulevard between Easy Street and Dreher Train North, right near the Palm Beach Zoo.

A medical examiner's vehicle arrived at the scene just before 11 a.m., and passengers said a body was taken away around 11:45 a.m.

West Palm Beach police said the incident has been ruled a suicide.

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue said crews were dispatched to Summit Boulevard around 10:10 a.m. for reports of a train hitting a pedestrian. However, once crews arrived, they determined that no one needed to be taken to the hospital.

The Tri-Rail incident in West Palm Beach came less than three hours after a Brightline train hit and killed a person near 10th Avenue North and North F Street in Lake Worth Beach on Tuesday, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

PBSO spokeswoman Teri Barbera said a pedestrian was walking east across the railroad tracks and was struck by a northbound train.

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Tuesday's crash was the third time in a week that a person has died in an accident with a Brightline train in Palm Beach County.

When something like this happens on a railroad track, it brings up that question, what is being done? There is education on railroad safety, new measures are put in place every few months, but transportation experts agree that raising awareness is the key to getting victims help before another tragedy occurs.

In one week, four people have died on railroad tracks in Palm Beach County.

"Ultimately, a train cannot stop on a dime. It cannot swerve, we all know that," said Steven Abrams, the executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees Tri-Rail.

A 67-year-old man was fatally struck by a Brightline train Sunday afternoon in Boynton Beach.

Last Tuesday, a man was struck and killed while walking across the tracks in Delray Beach.

Crossings are often modified to enhance safety, removing shrubs to increase visibility, adding striping, or flashing signs.

"Sadly, many of the trespasser incidents are suicides. People with substance abuse, in addition to people trying to beat the train," Abrams said.

The 211 helpline offers resources to Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast communities. For the first few months of 2022, mental health, including suicide-related calls, made up the largest percent of calls in Palm Beach County.

"We recently received a federal grant from the Federal Railroad Administration through Congresswoman [Lois] Frankel’s office to work with 211 to set up a pilot program with them to address this specific issue of suicides on the rail cargo," Abrams said.

Abrams said new programs are already showing a decline in deadly trespassing incidents for Tri-Rail.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, contact 988. The national helpline is now being answered by local 211 staff members.

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