FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A man was killed early Monday morning after being struck by a Brightline train in Pompano Beach.
It happened just after 5:30 a.m. at N Dixie Highway and NW 6 Street.
Brightline said the gates were down signaling an oncoming train and the individual drove around them.
Witnesses say the man was sitting in his truck on the train tracks when he was hit.
"It split the car in half," says a witness named Montez Lynette.
The man, who was identified as 27-year-old Jacob Bresnahan, was rushed to the hospital where he died, according to the Broward Sheriff's Office, which is still trying to figure out what happened.
"You've gotta come to grips with the fact that you just cannot beat that train," says Lynette.
The Brightline train had front end damage.
It was a scary sight for witnesses.
"I'll wait until there's no train in sight before I go on the track because of Brightline," said Bob Liuzzo. "I like the Brightline, but it goes 50, 60 mph flying by!"
The higher speed rail carrier said it's important for drivers to remember not to drive around gates in the down position, never try and beat a train, and on active railroad tracks, trains can approach from either direction.
The northbound lanes of N Dixie Highway between NW 3 and 6 Streets were closed for hours, but parts have reopened.
This most recent death continues trend that shows Brightline to have the worst fatality rate among the country's approximately 800 railroads since it began test runs in mid-2017, according to an Associated Press analysis of Federal Railroad Administration data.
However, earlier deaths involving Brightline have not been blamed on its equipment or crews. 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 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 testing drones to monitor the tracks.
While this crash is still under investigation, a spokesperson for Broward County Sheriff's Office says, "It remains a good time to remind people to recognize these tracks are active. There are trains going both ways. Slow down, take your time, don't try to beat the train or go around the gate."
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