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Bill Nelson calls for DOT probe into Brightline fatalities

Brightline 08 EKM

@NewsbySmiley and @DavidJNeal

For the second time since South Florida’s high-speed commuter line began carrying passengers less than a week ago, a Brightline train has struck and killed someone, raising concerns about pedestrian safety and leading a U.S. senator to call for a federal transportation investigation.

According to Boynton Beach police, 51-year-old Boynton Beach resident Jeffrey King tried to beat the train Wednesday afternoon and pedaled around the gates as he crossed the tracks going west on East Ocean Avenue. King was struck by one of Brightline’s trains, which only began carrying paying passengers from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale Saturday.

On Friday, the commuter line’s VIP opening was marred when a train killed 31-year-old Boynton Beach resident Melissa Lavell. As was the case with King, Lavell was crossing the tracks in Boynton Beach after guardrails were down.

The fatal incidents this week follow two previous fatalities that occurred after Florida East Coast Industries, Brightline’s parent company, began running its passenger cars along the tracks in July to prepare for the commuter line’s launch. The spate of deaths alarmed U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, who called on Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Wednesday to launch a probe into the security of crossings around the train’s path.

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