High-speed train from Florida on its way to Orlando fatally hits pedestrians

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — Florida's high-speed passenger rail service suffered its first death on its new extension to Orlando on Thursday when a pedestrian was struck in an apparent suicide attempt, officials said. Overall, it was Brightline's 99th death since it began operations six years ago.

A northbound Brightline train bound for Orlando struck the 25-year-old man just before 9 a.m. near the Atlantic coast city of Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said at a news conference. He said the man was homeless and appeared to have intentionally stepped in front of the train.

Brightline trains travel at speeds of up to 80 mph (127 km/h) in urban areas, 110 mph (177 km/h) in less populated regions, and 125 mph (200 km/h) through Central Florida farmland. It is not known how fast this train was traveling, Mascara said.

Brightline officials did not immediately respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment.

Brightline opened its expansion between Miami and Orlando on Friday. However, the celebrations were marred when a pedestrian was struck by the company's train carrying commuters from West Palm Beach to Miami.

Brightline trains have had the highest death rate in the U.S. since they began operating between Miami and West Palm – about one fatality for every 32,000 miles (51,500 kilometers) their trains travel, according to an ongoing Associated Press analysis of federal data published in 2019 started. The next worst major railroad has a fatality every 130,000 miles (209,200 kilometers).

It was determined that Brightline was not at fault in any of the deaths so far – most were suicides, motorists crossing gates or pedestrians running across tracks.

Brightline has taken steps to improve safety, including installing surveillance cameras near tracks, installing better crossing gates and pedestrian barriers, and adding signage that includes its suicide prevention hotline, according to its executives.


The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline can be reached by phone or text at 988 or via chat at

Anna Harden

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