A Florida woman who made a dash across the tracks was struck and killed on Friday night by a new high-speed train during its preview run, authorities said.
Melissa Lavell, 32, was attempting to beat the train while the guard rails were down when she was struck, witnesses told police. The Brightline train, doing preview runs from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach the night before its launch, stopped abruptly, a passenger told the Sun-Sentinel.A Brightline train employee told passengers there was a “trespasser incident.” No one on the train was injured.
"It's always unfortunate when there's an accident like that," Brightline President and COO Patrick Goddard said. "Certainly, safety is our top priority and when these [incidents] occur, as they do, we're prepared."
The train passengers were a mix of government officials and reporters getting VIP rides before Brightline’s official launch of the high-speed trains on Saturday. They were placed on buses to West Palm Beach and then sent back to Fort Lauderdale.
The train company was providing preview rides on Thursday and Saturday. The train will make 10 round trips daily starting at 6 a.m. and nine trips on weekends. It will expand south and north to take passengers from Miami to Orlando.
This is the third fatal incident by a Brightline train, the Sun-Sentinel reported. A woman died in July after she was struck by a train in Boca Raton. Police investigated the incident as a suicide.
Another woman also died in November when she was struck on the Deerfield Beach tracks.