SunRail train hits semi in Seminole County, 1 dead

By Jeff Allen, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, November 30, 2017, 6:32 PM EST

One person was killed Thursday after a SunRail train struck a tractor-trailer in Seminole County.

The incident happened at Ronald Reagan Boulevard and Plumosa Avenue, north of the Altamonte Springs train station. 

The crash happened just after noon as the semi was backing into a business to unload fencing materials, such as wood stakes and mesh. That's when the crossing arms and train signals activated.

As the semi's driver tried to move the truck, witnesses said people yelled at him to get out of the semi as the northbound train approached, but he did not make it out. Officials said he was killed instantly.

The semi was destroyed, and the front end of the train was also damaged.

Florida Highway Patrol thinks the truck driver possibly tried to get the truck off the tracks when the train crashed into it. Troopers have not released the 40-year-old driver's identity yet but said he worked for Atlantic Coast Carriers from Georgia.

Almost 40 people were on the train. Two were checked out at the scene, but no passengers were hospitalized.

Workers said trucks offloading to businesses in the area have no choice but to back up onto the train tracks while pulling in.

“That happens every day," Hector Herrera said. "They have to go across the track and back in, and it was just a matter of time before it happened — we’ve all talked about it."

A spokesperson with the Florida Department of Transportation said the agency has warned businesses in the area before that it is dangerous for trucks to back in over the tracks. Transportation officials said all lights, bells and gates at the railroad crossing meet all safety standards.

A closer look at this year's SunRail incidents (click on icons for details)