(Plant City, Florida December 23, 2016)
A 38-year-old resident of Riverview, FL was pronounced dead at the scene after his westbound Toyota Tundra was struck by a northbound CSX railroad train at the dangerous and unguarded private crossing leading to Jump Florida Skydiving. The crossing parallels Paul Buchman Highway and is just outside of Plant city, FL. The collision occurred last Friday, at about 2:13 PM, EST.
Nicholas Benigni, the victim, likely never knew the train was coming as the crossing did not have any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with signals, such as lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. Both CSX and Operation Lifesaver know that lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies that have been conducted over fifty years ago confirm that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
According to Federal Railroad Administration records, a dozen daily CSX trains traverse that crossing at maximum 50 mph speeds.