Woman killed by Brightline train in Boynton Beach on eve of debut

Brightline begins Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach service Saturday

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – A Brightline train struck and killed a woman Friday night in Boynton Beach, just hours before the new high-speed passenger rail service was set to make its public debut.

The train was traveling north on the Florida East Coast Railway tracks near Northeast Sixth Avenue and Boynton Beach Boulevard when it fatally struck the woman shortly before 6:30 p.m., Boynton Beach police Officer Jaclyn Smith said.

On Saturday, police identified the victim as Melissa Lavell, 32.

"After speaking with witnesses, it appears that Lavell was crossing the tracks after the guard rails were in the down position in an attempt to make it across before the train approached," Smith said.

The commute service began limited service Saturday morning, traveling from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale in about 35 minutes. The train, with amenities such as leather seats and free Wi-Fi, will begin service to Miami later this year.

The company plans to eventually expand service to Orlando.

Michael Hicks, a spokesman for Brightline, released a statement saying the company was cooperating with local authorities. 

"This is a tragic incident, and our thoughts and prayers are with those affected," the statement said. "We continue to stress safety and the adherence to the rules and laws in place around active railroads." 

Smith said no one on the train was injured.

About the Authors:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.