Florida Grandmother's Car Struck by Train Running for First Time in 18 Months

A Brightline commuter train, on its first day of operation since the pandemic, hit a car in Florida carrying a woman and her grandchild, but the pair was able to avoid serious injury.

According to Pompano Beach, Florida Fire and Rescue spokeswoman Sandra King, the 71-year-old woman had some broken bones and the 1-year-old child did not sustain any serious injuries. They are currently in the hospital and are expected to make a full recovery.

King told news outlets that the woman, whose identity has not been revealed, took a right turn attempting to cross the train tracks. She was said to be attempting to drive off the tracks as the train approached, but was unable to do so before the collision. Witnesses, including a Broward County Transit bus driver and a retired firefighter that was on board the train, rushed to get the grandmother and her grandchild out of the car after the crash.

"Obviously, it was just visually awful," King told reporters. "The car is mangled."

As for the train itself, it was heading south from West Palm Beach to the Fort Lauderdale Brightline station. The train was carrying several company officials, including company President Patrick Goddard.

Brightline had ceased operations in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The train was on its way to an event commemorating the return of Brightline services.

An investigation by the Broward Sheriff's Office is currently underway.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Brightline Train
A Brightline train hit a grandmother and her 1-year-old grandchild in Florida on its way to commemorate the company resuming service after the coronavirus pandemic. The Brightline train is seen at the new MiamiCentral terminal during the inaugural trip from Miami to West Palm Beach on May 11, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The train travels at speeds of up to 79 mph (127 kph) through some of Florida's most densely populated cities.

The private company began operations in 2017 between West Palm Beach and Miami.

During the shutdown, Brightline has continued laying track for its planned expansion from South Florida to Orlando and its theme parks. That route is set to open in late 2022 or early 2023.

Brightline then plans to open a line between Orlando and Tampa and one between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

According to the local news outlet Local 10, at least 53 passengers were riding the train. Hourly service between Miami and West Palm Beach had just begun the day of the crash. Company officials have said that all Brightline employees will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Furthermore, Brightline will be enforcing mask mandates for both its crew and its passengers.

This story is ongoing, and more information regarding the case will be released as the investigation continues.

Brightline Lobby
The grandmother and grandchild escaped the accident without serious injury. People take their seats on the Brightline passenger train's inaugural trip from Miami to West Palm Beach on May 11, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images