We have new Darwin Awards nominees

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Readers of this blog were introduced almost three years ago to Florida East Coast Railway engineer David Shelley. In that episode, his southbound intermodal train rounded a curve near Boca Raton at 57 mph to find a car parked on a crossing, its driver oblivious to the approaching train and its whistle while she spoke on a cell phone. His train whammed into the car. “We just knew it was going to be a mess,” David said later. Fortunately, the woman not only survived the collision but was not too seriously hurt. She said she didn’t realize she was stopped on railroad tracks.

Now we have further proof that Florida is a hotbed of idiots. Last Thursday David and conductor Jim Bush (no relation to Jeb, sorry) were just out of Hialeah with Jacksonville-bound train 202 and noticed a group of men on the track ahead. As 202 got closer, doing 45 mph, they realized that the trespassers were members of a band — there with guitar, drums, electric piano — filming a video. “They barely made it out of the way, grabbing their drums and instruments and jumping to the west side of the tracks,” David reports. “We notified the dispatcher to get the police out there and I called local 965 who was right behind me and told them. Guess what? The idiots ran right back out on the tracks behind me to film, but luckily the local was prepared to stop.”

Minutes later, train 202 approached the Fort Lauderdale drawbridge and came upon a photographer, his back to the train, posing a woman for photos between the rails. “Of course, laying on the horn didn’t work because the photographer wanted a close-up shot,” relates David. “Needless to say, that gorgeous model wasn’t too happy in high heels stumbling to get out of the way and had this ‘Oh s---!’ look on her face.” Again, police were called.
David and Jim had the next two days off. On Sunday, they took train 101 from Jacksonville. Near San Augustine, they came upon a woman standing way too close to the tracks. She stepped out of the way at the last second, missed by inches. David asked for police to investigate.

Monday they’re again on 101. Same place. Same time. Same woman, this time with a camera. “As I approached her she literally walked right between the rails in front of me and looking at me,” said David. “She did appear to hold a camera in her hand but was not taking pics.” This time she was struck by the train. News services reported later that the woman, 33 years old, sustained multiple cuts. She claimed to be taking photographs of the train and remembered nothing of the incident. I suspect she was contemplating suicide.

The Florida East Coast suffers a lot of people like these, and the railroaders have my sympathy. The railroad passes through one of the most heavily populated parts of the country. Many of its residents are elderly. I don’t know what excuse the others have to offer. — Fred W. Frailey

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