1 dead after SunRail train hits semitruck, fire rescue says

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - A SunRail train struck a semitruck on the tracks in Seminole County Thursday afternoon killing one person, Seminole County Fire Rescue officials said.

The crash happened near Plumosa Avenue and Ronald Reagan Boulevard in Altamonte Springs, fire rescue officials said.

Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes said the truck was in the westbound lanes of Magnolia Avenue attempting to back up into a business loading area when the driver, 40-year-old Stephen Chambers, noticed the crossing arms and signals activated.

Troopers said Chambers got into the semitruck in an attempt to move it, but the SunRail still struck the vehicle. The train crashed into the driver's side of the truck cab and Chambers was ejected, according to the crash report. He died at the scene.

Neighbors have previously expressed concern because truck drivers have to back up and unload near the tracks.

The SunRail train operator did attempt to stop, Montes said.

"A train is like a large vehicle. It doesn't stop on a dime," Montes said.

Sky 6 aerial video showed the tractor-trailer split down the middle on the tracks with its contents all over the tracks. The truck was hauling fencing materials, including wood and screen.

Seminole County Fire Rescue officials said 30 gallons of diesel fuel leaked. A hazmat team responded to clean up the leak.

The 38 passengers on the train were transported on a Lynx bus. None of the train passengers were injured.

SunRail service between Longwood and Sand Lake Road was suspended until 6:35 p.m. Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Olson said southbound trains were running again and bus bridge was operating until northbound trains can run in at the Sand Lake Road Station.

FHP is investigating the crash.

This is the second fatal train crash involving a semitruck within two weeks in Central Florida. Eight people have died this year as a result of crashes involving the commuter rail in Central Florida.

View a map below of all the SunRail-related crashes since 2014. Click on the icons to learn about each incident.

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