(Sanford, Florida – May 19, 2017)
A 13-year-old middle school student was tragically killed by a train hauling 62 passengers aboard two cars being pulled by a single locomotive Friday afternoon at about 5:45 P.M., EDT. The incident occurred at a crossing between neighborhoods at a clearly well used pathway across a Central Florida Commuter Rail Transit (Sunrail) double-track main line. The railroad tracks accommodate a daily average of 10 Florida DOT commuter passenger trains.
Marcees Kilpatrick, whom a Seminole County School System’s spokesperson identified as a student at Markham Woods Middle School, was killed when his body was clipped by the fast moving train. The collision occurred when Marcees attempted to walk his bicycle across the two tracks. Media overhead views showed a well-worn pathway across the tracks. There is no public crossing for a distance of over a mile between McCracken Road and Harrison Street as the commuter rail tracks cut past heavily-populated neighborhoods.
Speaking with WESH-TV, Channel 2 NBC News, Orlando, Reporter Amanda Crawford, an unidentified FDOT spokesperson said that the area is “a candidate for safety enhancements,” something that the reporter referred to as a “fence”.
“There needs to be something done,” the young victim’s grandmother, Hazel Creighton, told the WESH reporter, as she explained that her grandson often crossed the tracks at the point where he was killed.
Neighbors in the area told WESH that they would often see more than a dozen people crossing there.
Orlando Sentinel Reporter Christal Hayes quoted neighborhood resident Mattie Atkins, 37, as saying she crossed the tracks at the same point regularly as a child. “I don’t think these kids know how fast those trains can get,” said Atkins. “It’s just awful and devastating to hear it was a child,” she said of young Marcees. “I can’t imagine what the parents are going through.”
Belinda Davis, who lives right next to the fatal site, told The Sentinel reporter that “There are always a bunch of kids out here playing, and people – even adults – use those tracks to cross.”
Another resident, Ela Brooks told WFTV’s Janine Reyes that children regularly cut across the train tracks in the area to get from one neighborhood to another. “I’ve been seeing them ever since I’ve been here, and I’ve been here since 1957.”
Sanford Police Spokeswoman Bianca Gillett told Reporter Hayes that “It’s very tragic and unfortunate.”
The railroad tracks skirt the property of the Crooms Academy of Information Technology in the Academy Manor neighborhood, while on the opposite side of the railroad lays the Goldsboro subdivision.
Mattie Aikens, meanwhile, told the Orlando Sentinel that “It’s a freak accident, but still, I hope that something is done about this because no child should lose their life like this!”