2 killed by Amtrak train in Winter Park amid deadly year on tracks

By John W. Davis, Jeff Allen, Digital Media Producers, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 27, 2017, 6:25 PM EDT

Two pedestrians were struck and killed by an Amtrak train in Winter Park on Wednesday afternoon.

  • 2 pedestrians struck, killed by Amtrak train
  • Accident happened near South Denning, Palmetto Avenue
  • More than 430 people killed in track accidents nationwide

The accident happened just before noon near South Denning Drive and Palmetto Avenue and involved a southbound Amtrak Silver Star train, which travels between New York City and Miami.

No one was injured on the train, which carried 83 passengers.

Shannon Youngs owns the Green Umbrella store on Palmetto Avenue in Winter Park. She's accustomed to navigating the nearby train tracks and hearing the noise.

"This is definitely not a normal Wednesday in Winter Park," she said. "We heard around 11:40 (a.m.) the train come by, which isn't unusual. We hear the SunRail and the Amtrak come by all the time, but the horn sounded different (this time). It was very chopped up," Youngs said.

The accident canceled service to SunRail trains P317 and P318. Service on Amtrak Train 91 was temporarily suspended while law enforcement investigated the incident.  

The Amtrak train returned to service at 2:22 p.m., and SunRail service will return to normal this evening.

Winter Park Police said it appears that at this time, both females acted intentionally to take their own lives. The investigation is ongoing.

"Hopefully some of the other buildings has some security footage of what happened, because I know we have other offices along the street here," Youngs said.

"This is an unfortunate occurrence," Winter Park Police Sgt. Garvin McComie said. "It's a tragedy, so we're trying to do the best investigation we can to determine exactly why it happened."

Deadly year on tracks

The Federal Railroad Administration reports that so far this year, there have already been more than 430 people killed in accidents along train tracks nationwide. That’s more than 50 more than last year’s total — with three months left in the year.

The nonprofit Operation Lifesaver teamed up with the U.S. Department of Transportation to hold its first U.S. Rail Safety Week this week.

Despite accidents involving train tracks decreasing in the past several decades nationwide, the group says there’s still a person or car hit by a train every three hours. It's urging people to be more careful around train tracks.

SunRail is pushing its own safety campaign this week as well. There have been several people hit and killed by SunRail trains in the past several months.

On Wednesday evening, a SunRail train hit a vehicle on the tracks at Michigan Street in Orlando. No one on board the train was hurt, no word if anyone was in the vehicle.

Officials also have launched safety campaigns on social media and billboards warning people to stay away from tracks earlier this year. They are also looking at 12 different areas in Orange and Seminole counties to put up fencing.