FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – CBS4 News has obtained the emergency calls made before and after a Tri Rail train slammed into a car stuck on the tracks at Commercial Boulevard near Ft. Lauderdale Sunday night.
The driver of the Jetta and his passengers managed to get out of the car before the northbound Tri Rail train hit. But immediately after impact the car exploded into flames.
Here is one of those calls from a man watching the drama unfold.
9-1-1 Operator: Are you saying there’s a vehicle on the tracks?
Caller: Yes, there’s a vehicle on the tracks…all of the people got out of it.
It’s going to hit it.
Operator: Oh my gosh
In the background, the train is heard slamming into the car.
Caller: It just hit it. There’s fire going all the way down the tracks and it blew up a gas tank and there’s parts all over the place.
The train was going 89 miles an hour. The driver, who is a Chinese exchange student, told BSO investigators that he was trying to find the entry to I-95 when he became stuck on the tracks. His two passengers tried to push the car off the tracks but it was too late.
Eleven people on the train had to be transported to area hospitals. They have all since been released.
Denva Dawkins lives in Riviera Beach and says he was one his way home from visiting his mother when he heard a bump then saw the blaze. Dawkins says after impact it was difficult to get the doors of the train open until someone pulled the emergency release.
“My neck and back were hurt. It was very scary. People were jumping from the train,” he told CBS4’s Joan Murray over the phone. “Those who weren’t jumping were running for their lives.”
The driver of the car was cited by BSO.