It’s every train engineer’s nightmare: A figure lurches onto the track in front of a charging, 200-ton locomotive. The outcome is usually fatal, and while the number of pedestrians killed by trains is slightly declining nationally, experts say it still occurs all too often.
Friday, it happened twice on the same train, in two different cities at opposite ends of the state. Two men were killed instantly, and police in two jurisdictions are investigating how they came to be on the tracks.
On its way north from Miami to Atlanta, Florida East Coast Railway Train 210 struck and killed Jonathan Adario, 19, of Cooper City, about 4 a.m. Friday. The fatality occurred just south of the Southwest Second Street railroad crossing in Fort Lauderdale. Adario was pronounced dead at the scene.
We believe that Mr. Adario was lying near the railroad tracks when the train struck him,” Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Travis Mandell said.
Investigators are trying to determine why Adario was on the tracks, whether he intentionally sought to be hit or whether alcohol was involved. “We’ve still got to conduct a thorough investigation here,” Mandell said. “At this time, anything’s possible.”
About 10 hours and 435 miles later, at 2:30 p.m. in St. Augustine, Train 210, traveling at 58 mph, struck and killed another man. Police are investigating whether the second fatality was a suicide.
“He was at some point walking along the side of the track,” said Sgt. Chuck Mulligan of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. “As the train approached, he entered into the pathway of the train.”
Mulligan said authorities are waiting for more information before identifying the man, who may not be from St. Johns County. They have yet to interview the engineer and need to talk to family members “to see what was going on in this individual’s life,” Mulligan said.
“Obviously, there’s a great deal of trauma in this tragedy,” he said.
“It’s probably one of the worst things that can happen to an engineer,” said John Bentley, spokesman for the Cleveland-based Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. “It’s very devastating emotionally.”