(Dover, Florida – August 24, 2015)
The deadly, fiery collision between Amtrak’s Tampa, FL-bound “Silver Star” and a 2012 Buick whose driver was leaving an auto auction via an unguarded and dangerous private crossing of CSX railroad tracks Monday afternoon at about 4:35 P.M., EDT is believed to have been the second fatality to be suffered at the non-signalized intersection.
Toriano M. Dempsey, 42, of Mulberry, FL would have had no warning of the approach of the train, one of nine that cross there at speeds as high as 79 mph, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. If FRA records are correct, the crossing, under another name due to previous, now-nonexistent ownership, was the tragic site of four earlier collisions, one of which, on January 22, 1983, resulted in death for the motorist, who was also hit by an Amtrak train.
The victim was leaving the Copart Auction House in Dover via a crossing of CSX railroad tracks paralleling State Route 574 (Martin Luther King Blvd.). The private crossing did not have any active warning devices, such as flashing lights and gates to warn the victim of the approach of Amtrak’s Miami-to-Tampa train #92, hauling 147 passengers aboard eight cars pulled by two locomotives. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this accident one would not have happened. Amtrak, 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%.
The Florida Highway Patrol was investigating the tragedy.