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Brightline safety measures questioned by victim's family

Family plans to 'hold responsible parties accountable' pending investigation

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BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – An attorney for a South Florida family said he is looking into whether a guardrail was not functioning properly Wednesday when a bicyclist was fatally struck by a Brightline train in Boynton Beach.

The incident was reported about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 400 block of Ocean Avenue.

"There needs to be an investigation," attorney Zedrick Barber said. "There have been reports that that guardrail was not functioning properly. The details aren't in yet. We're still investigating and we'll continue to investigate, and if someone did something wrong, if (the guardrails) are functioning improperly, then we’ll make sure that those responsible parties are held accountable."

Police said Jeffrey King, 51, was riding his bicycle across the train tracks while heading home from work when he was struck by the train.

Witnesses said they saw King ride around the safety gate just before he was hit.

This is the second time in less than a week that someone has been killed by a Brightline train. Last Friday night, just before Brightline officially started service to West Palm Beach, Melissa Lavell, 32, was killed while walking across the tracks. 

Police said she also went around the barriers. Two others were fatally struck by Brightline trains last year during test runs. 

King's family spoke at a news conference Thursday, saying he would be remembered as a beloved man who cared deeply for others.

"He was a loving, caring man," King's mother, Shirley Folsom, said. "He made coffee every morning and carried it down to the homeless people here in Boynton Beach. He even cooked meals and took them down to feed the homeless people in Boynton Beach. He cared about everybody and everybody cared about him."

Brightline released a statement after the incident, saying in part: "Brightline continues to reinforce awareness and education. It is critical that the public remains attentive when near any active railroad."


About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.