Amtrak Train Hits Car

train tracks

Posted on June 30, 2010


A tragedy to report from Lake Como, Florida where an Amtrak train hit a car crossing the train tracks and killed a woman and her two children. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the crossing tracks were unguarded and in southern Putnam County.

The accident happened Monday afternoon, June 14 at about 3:45 p.m. The Amtrak was the northbound Silver Meteor. The collision happened at Highlands Avenue crossing reported to be one of the older crossings without a flashing light or arms. Instead a traditional railroad crossing sign and stop sign was the only warning for the mother, says the FHP.

The woman is identified as 34-year-old Melissa Johnson and her sons Brandon, 9, and Blake, 6. They were leaving the home of relatives and traveling on the private road when for some unknown reason, their Ford Taurus pulled in front of the Amtrak train going about 70 mph. Readers of News4Jax say the father is in the Army. All three were pronounced dead at the scene. The family is from Pomona Park, Florida.

No one among the 259 passengers on board the Amtrak train was hurt. At 70 mph it took a while for the train to stop.

Whoever owns the train track, reported to be CSX, has an ethical duty to put up a modern sign complete with an audio sound and arm to stop as a fair warning of an approaching train. If in the case of private property the owners of the road were advised to install a more modern warning device, they opted not to do so.

An experienced Florida auto accident attorney would need to investigate the railroad crossbucks. Was there any stop sign or any signage warning motorists to look both ways? Did the train engineer sound his horn at least 20 seconds before entering the public crossing? Federal law states these things the horn blasts are a requirement when approaching a public crossing.

Only when the at-fault party is determined can civil remedies be sought to compensate the father for his immense loss. Our hearts go out to the family at this difficult time.

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