HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – A second collision this week involving a Brightline train has turned deadly after authorities confirmed that the driver of a Jeep Wrangler who was struck by a train in Hollywood on Tuesday has died from his injuries.
Tuesday’s crash came just one day after another deadly crash involving a Brightline train in Pompano Beach.
Police say the driver of the Jeep tried to go around the arms once they came down in the area of Garfield Street and North Dixie Highway.
Nearby drivers pulled over to flip the Jeep off of the driver before he was rushed to a hospital in critical condition.
“They said he was chasing the train and he must have seen that the arms were down and he tried to zig zag around it,” said Yacoub Naber, who was one of the witnesses who rushed over to help the driver.
The victim has been identified as 52-year-old Maher Soua. He was the only person in the vehicle at the time of the crash, according to officials.
Business cards belonging to Soua were scattered around the crash site. He was the proprietor and manager of a Gulf gas station in Dania Beach.
The sudden loss of Soua was a devastating shock to his friends and family.
“He was a good brother, a good community member. He was a good friend,” said Tarek Zakaria, Soua’s friend. “It’s really sad to see a young man like him die in these circumstances.”
Witnesses said the Jeep was speeding just seconds before the crash.
“He got ejected out of the Jeep. They had to pull the truck off of him,” one witness said.
The crash was the second serious collision for Brightline in just two days.
On Monday, 27-year-old Jake Bresnehan was killed when he drove his truck around the downed crossing arms in Pompano Beach at Northeast Sixth Street and Dixie Highway.
Investigators blamed both crashes on the drivers circumventing the safety features at the track.
“The one minute that you have to wait for that crossing arm to go up is not worth your life,” Hollywood Police Officer Christian Lata said.
According to Florida law, “any person walking or driving a vehicle and approaching a railroad-highway grade crossing under any of the circumstances stated in this section shall stop within 50 feet but not less than 15 feet from the nearest rail of such railroad and shall not proceed until he or she can do so safely.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “even in an emergency, some trains can take a mile (or more) to stop.”
Before this week’s crashes, at least 64 people had died since 2018 in Brightline-related collisions.
Operators of the high-speed commuter rail service have outlined a $45 million funding plan to enhance safety measures at the tracks, aimed at preventing car and pedestrian collisions.
It involves raising the pavement and adding more high visibility signage at the crossing gates and adding more fencing along its tracks.