Train Kills Three Teenage Girls

Posted on March 29, 2010

A train killed three teenage girls on Melbourne Bridge in Florida. It happened on February 20th, Saturday night when the girls were walking over the Melbourne trestle and were struck by a southbound train on the Crane Creek railroad trestle around 6: 30 p.m. Initial reports said two juveniles were in the water, about 20 feet below the bridge, but ultimately the bodies of three young teens were found just off the tracks. A fourth juvenile male was interviewed at the scene to find out what happened.

Our condolences go out to the families of these young girls. Two were eight-graders at Southwest Middle School. The other was just 15-years-old.

Accident Statistics
The deaths remind us about the importance of being safe at railway crossings. Between January 1999 and December 2009, 22 people classified as ‘trespassers’ lost their lives on Brevard County rail tracks, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. These mark the first railway fatalities in more than a decade of someone under the age of 15 in Brevard County.

Pedestrians are supposed to cross only at a railroad designated pedestrian or roadway crossing.

Liability Issues
The train had reportedly sent out its warning horn and hit the emergency brake, then stopped at the scene. How and why they were killed is the focus of Melbourne police and Florida East Coast Railway officials, which operates the train involved. It spent Sunday measuring the scene. The girls had reportedly been taking pictures on the track and cross the trestle to get to the beach.

One question for investigators is why the girls did not react sooner to get off the track. Was there clear visibility? Were warning signs adequate? Why did they not hear or feel the train coming sooner? What speed was the train going?

If I was a member of the family, I would ask for an independent investigator and a Florida accident attorney to help determine the adequacy of the warning signs posted. The FEC says ‘no trespassing’ signs are posted at crossings because of the potential for danger. Were the warning signs adequate? “Private property: No trespassing” signs are bolted to small concrete pillars warning people to stay off the tracks, but they are battered and rusting, Florida Today reports. And the bridge has no railings or fencing. East Coast Railway has launched its own internal investigation to probe whether it was following proper procedures.

No one knows why the girls didn’t jump into the creek below when they saw the train. It is thought that they panicked and thought they could outrun it. Trains travel too fast to do that and that particular bridge runs about 650 feet and is about 20 feet above the water. A man fishing under the bridge said he heard the sound of brakes then a girl screaming and crying. Florida East Coast Railway released a statement to the media Sunday, February 21, expressing their sympathies.


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