Florida's Brightline Passenger Train Hits, Kills Pedestrian, Marking 5th Death Since Dec. 7

A pedestrian was killed in southern Florida on Tuesday after they walked into the path of an oncoming Brightline passenger train, police said. It's the fifth fatality for the company in nearly a month.

Boynton Beach police said the person was struck right before 8 a.m., but no other information has been released, according to spokeswoman Stephanie Slater.

The most recent death added to the four involving Brightline trains in the past 29 days. On Dec. 7, a person was struck dead by a train in North Miami Beach. Just four days later, another person was hit and killed in Hollywood.

On Dec. 30, a 68-year-old man and his 58-year-old sister died after being hit by a Brightline train after the man drove around the crossing gates and onto the track, according to investigators.

Brightline has the worst fatality rate among the nearly 800 railroad companies in the U.S., according to the Associated Press analysis on the Federal Railroad Administration data.

According to the study, a Brightline train hits someone approximately every 33,000 miles it travels.

The company has 52 deaths attributed to its trains, but investigations showed none of the deaths were a result of faulty equipment or employee error.

Brightline Train Hit, Kills Pedestrian
A Brightline passenger train fatally hit a pedestrian in Florida on Tuesday. It was Brightline's fifth fatality since Dec. 7. Above, passengers load up on the Brightline train at the Fort Lauderdale station on May 11, 2018. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Investigations showed most victims were either suicidal, intoxicated, mentally ill or had gone around barriers at an intersection in an attempt to beat the trains, which travel up to 79 mph through densely populated areas between Miami and West Palm Beach.

Brightline shut down its service from March 2020 until November, but one of its trains fatally struck a pedestrian in July during an engineer training exercise.

Brightline officials did not immediately return a call and email Tuesday seeking comment. After a recent accident, the privately owned railroad issued a statement saying, "Safety is a topic that we will not stop talking about and we are asking the community, law enforcement, elected officials and members of the media to use their platforms and help amplify a consistent safety message: stay off the tracks and obey all warning signs."

Brightline has installed infrared detectors that will warn engineers if anyone is lurking near the tracks so they can slow down or stop. The company has added more fencing and landscaping to make track access more difficult and is also installing red-light cameras at crossings that will allow police to ticket drivers who go around guardrails. It is also testing drones to monitor the tracks.

Excluding five small railroads that average less than 100,000 miles traveled a year, where one or two fatal accidents skew their numbers, the railroad with the next-worst rate to Brightline is central Florida's SunRail, which since mid-2017 has had at least 18 deaths or about one every 100,000 miles, according to federal records.

TriRail, a commuter service that operates in the same area as Brightline, averages about one death every 115,000 miles.

Brightline plans to begin service connecting West Palm Beach and Orlando in about a year. On that new segment, trains will reach speeds of 125 mph when they travel through less densely populated farmland. It also is developing a line that will connect Southern California and Las Vegas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.