The Broward Sheriff’s Office made a strong statement last week: a zero-tolerance policy against motorists and pedestrians who try to beat the train.
However, four days after the announcement of Operation Crossing Guard, a woman died after colliding with a Brightline train in Oakland Park.
Liesel Hulden, 84, was killed Tuesday afternoon when she drove onto the train tracks at North Dixie Highway and Cypress Creek Road. According to BSO, the railroad warning signals had already gone off and she stopped on the tracks.
“As a Brightline train approached from the south, the train engineer sounded the horn and applied the brakes; however, before the train could stop, the train struck the vehicle and carried the vehicle several hundred feet,” according to a release from the agency.
Since Brightline kicked off its services in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami in 2018, there have been countless deaths related to pedestrians standing/lying on the train tracks or cars stopping on the tracks. Just a year later, the Associated Press called the Brightline the deadliest rail line in the country.
However, the last few months seem to have been particularly deadly in Broward County — and not just for the Brightline. Three pedestrians and one driver were killed in train collisions in Pompano Beach and Oakland Park, involving the Brightline, Tri-Rail and FEC cargo trains.
Thankfully, not all accidents have been fatal. In April, a truck sitting on the tracks in Wilton Manors was hit by the Brightline; there were no injuries. In March, a driver escaped with his life after colliding with the Brightline in Oakland Park.
The rash of fatalities led to the creation of Operation Crossing Guard, a partnership among Brightline, BSO and local police departments to combat the train-versus-car collisions. Officers will be handing out tickets ranging from $115 to $205 and the operation will utilize both overt and covert officers.
“In almost all cases, people are ignoring and circumventing the warning lights, sounds, safety signs, and crossing gates … the odds of beating the train are not in your favor, and the results are just tragic,” BSO Col. Steve Robson, the executive director of the Department and Preparedness and Response, said during a press conference on June 3.
The Brightline moves at 79 miles per hour on average. According to a flier from the event, it can take a train at least 1 mile to come to a complete stop.