A new high-speed passenger train service in Florida is already mired in controversy after killing two people in just one week, raising the total number of casualties connected to the trains to four – and causing some to call on the company behind the trains to halt the service until safety matters are revisited.
“Stop victim blaming and take responsibility for the fact that your trains are killing people,” Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) wrote on Twitter, referring to Florida’s Brightline train service. “Trains should stop running until massive safety flaws are resolved.”
Jeffrey King became the fourth person killed by a Brightline train on Wednesday, the Washington Post reported. While he was the first person killed since the train began carrying paying passengers last Saturday, three others have died since Brightline started conducting test runs last year.
Another victim, Melissa Ann Lavell, was hit and killed by a train on a demonstration run on Friday night. Police said that both King and Lavell ignored the train’s automated warning system and went around the gates in the hopes of beating the Brightline trains, which travel at speeds surpassing 70 mph.
The death of an 18-year-old woman in Boca Raton in July was ruled a suicide, while the death of a woman hit on tracks near Fort Lauderdale was ruled an accident.
Brightline is a privately held company that began service Saturday on a 40-mile route between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. It has plans to expand service to Miami later this year, followed by Orlando in 2020.
To combat perceived safety issues, Brightline has run numerous ads on several mediums informing the public about the need for caution near train tracks.
“The safety systems are designed to prevent and protect people from incidents like those that occurred in recent days,” the company said in a statement on Thursday. “Those systems functioned as intended.”