Higher speed train hits car that went around gate near Miami

Brightline train in Aventura. (WPLG)

AVENTURA, Fla. – A train belonging to Florida’s higher speed passenger rail service hit a car that went around railroad crossing gates early Thursday near Miami, officials said.

The crossing gate's lights were flashing and bells were ringing to signal an approaching train about 6 a.m. in Aventura, which is north of Miami.

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The blue car was left mangled on the other side of the street after the crash. It was not immediately known what happened to the occupants of the car, but officials said no one on the Brightline train was injured.

“This was a tragic event and the direct result of an individual driving around the gates which were down, flashing and bells ringing, signaling an approaching train,” Brightline said in a statement.

The trains only recently started running again after being shut down at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.

A man who was walking on the tracks in North Miami Beach died when he was struck by a Brightline train earlier this month. It was at least the 49th involving a Brightline train since the Miami to West Palm Beach line launched in mid-2017.

An Associated Press examination of federal records shows that Brightline has more fatalities per mile than any U.S. railroad, one about every 31,000 miles (50,000 kilometers). Since 2018, an average of about 1,200 people are fatally struck by trains annually in the United States.

None of the deaths involving Brightline have been blamed on its equipment or crews. Investigations showed most victims were either suicidal, intoxicated, mentally ill or had gone around barriers at an intersection in an attempt to beat the trains, which travel up to 79 mph (128 km/h) through densely populated areas.

Meanwhile, in downtown Orlando, a pedestrian was killed after being hit by a commuter rail train. Police were investigating the cause of the accident, according to the Orlando Sentinel.