(Longwood, Florida – September 20, 2014)
A 28-year-old man was killed by Amtrak’s “Silver Meteor” when he was unable to follow passengers believed to be his wife and daughter in escaping from a pickup truck which became caught up in highway traffic at the intersection of Florida State Road 434 and CFCR (Central Florida Community Rail Transit) railroad tracks in downtown Longwood, FL at about 2:25 P.M., EDT Saturday afternoon.
Witnesses said Joseph Martinez Jackson of Clearwater, FL continued to attempt to clear his vehicle from the crossing as the victim’s relatives screamed to no avail for him to abandon the truck before the Miami-to-New York train struck it and dragged it between 100 and 200 feet before stopping.
“It was horrific,” said eyewitness Dan Aitken, 42, who had just left a nearby barber shop when he saw the tragedy unfold. “It sounded like a bomb went off,” said Aitken, who then ran to the crushed vehicle to see if he could assist the victim.
Another witness, Paul Williams, 58, was at the crossing when the gates came down, and said that “Before I heard the train come across the crossing I heard a big boom,” which was probably the sound of the train’s engineer putting his train’s brakes into emergency mode.
The train, with a total of 191 crew members and passengers on board, was delayed six hours as law enforcement and emergency response personnel investigated the tragic accident.
The former CSX crossing accommodates a total of 10 Amtrak and CFCR commuter trains daily at a maximum speed of 60 mph.