Tragedy on the Tracks…Again

On many occasions, my commute has been affected by accidental deaths and suicides on the Tri-Rail tracks. I wrote about this in another post; Death By Tri-Rail. But today’s experience was the first time I was on the train that struck and killed someone. I didn’t hear or feel anything. Nor did I see any evidence of the gruesome death, which is probably for the best. Local 10 News is reporting that it was a female (link) who died in this morning’s incident.

I didn’t notice anyone on the train who was shaken or visibly disturbed by the incident. Almost immediately after the conductor’s announcement of what happened, everyone (including myself) casually looked around at each other and went back to their phones and computers. Although I’m sure they all agreed that a very tragic thing had just happened, they were probably thinking what I was thinking: “I’m gonna be late for work.”

That’s the closest thing to mourning you’ll ever see in this crowd of sleepy commuters. Like me, they’ve already gone through this routine several times before. It’s just a regular thing now. Every month, it seems that someone accidentally or purposefully dies on these tracks. According to my count, today’s death was the seventh of 2017.

I took this picture with my phone as I sat in my window seat. I blankly stared off into the distance…imagining how bad one’s life must be that she would choose to kill herself in such a violent way. I sat there for nearly an hour on the motionless train, imagining the horrors just below us.

As terrible as it is when a trespasser kills himself on the tracks of a train, I can’t think of anything the Regional Transportation Authority can do to prevent it from happening. If some lost soul decides to use the Tri-Rail to end his life, he’ll find a way to do it. He literally has nothing to lose. The most vital thing he has, his life, is exactly what he’s trying to surrender.

Interestingly, when the incident occurred this morning, I was writing a new post about the difficulties of life, the burdens we bear and the pain that so many people are silently enduring. I didn’t need a reminder about the ugly sorrows of life but I certainly got one.

A suicide occurred on these tracks on February 3 (link), March 26 (link) and again on May 16 (link). If it turns out that today’s death was also intentional, that’s four suicides in the span of five months. And if four people actually went all the way and did it, how many more have thought about it? How many wish they could do it but are just too afraid?

I’m usually on my phone during my morning commute from 6:50 to 7:25am. But sometimes I look out the window and see people living under the bridges and overpasses. I see indications that a whole underworld of castoffs is living down there. I can’t imagine it’s a very optimistic lifestyle. And with a powerful train whizzing by every 30 minutes, it must be a constant reminder that all the pain of this life can be ended whenever the next train comes by.

I have no solutions to offer in this post and no blame to assign to anyone. This is the city we live in. We’re surrounded by people we don’t know and they’re all going through something at one level or another. Knee-jerk reactions of “they need to prevent this” are pointless. If the RTA could prevent this, they most certainly would.

I’m just like everyone else on that train. I don’t want to be inconvenienced or late for work. I’m preoccupied with my own life and my own concerns. With this post, I just wanted to say something more than “oh how tragic.” I wanted to do something more than shaking my head. I just wanted to acknowledge the pain of real people.

If I ever get the chance to look a suicidal person in the eye and talk to them, I would acknowledge their pain. And when they tell me how messed up everything is, how broken the world is and how life isn’t supposed to be this way, I would just agree with them and encourage them to get around people who can listen and help.

The Crisis Intervention line here in Broward County is 954-537-0211. Or just call 2-1-1.

Please send me a quick email to let me know how you found this post:

UPDATE 7/25: The woman who was struck and killed by the train was Loukeesha McKenzie, 36, of Fort Lauderdale (her facebook page).

Also, the very next day, Tuesday 7/25, a man was hit by a freight train in Fort Lauderdale. He survived in spite of sustaining major injuries. On Wednesday 7/26, a man and woman were hit by a train together in Delray Beach.

2017-07-27T17:11:13+00:00July 24, 2017|POSTS|


  1. Noreen Patten November 30, 2017 at 10:40 pm - Reply

    Good evening again Mr. Gonzalez, after reading your latest post, I’m left at a lost on how to articulate how I feel. I personally have been the engineer at the helm on several deaths by rail…Not counting all the bodies or parts by tracks, relieving other crews who have been involved in incidents and countless, countless near misses. Typing these words make me question my choice of profession for the last 18 years. I can only reply that with the very good comes very bad. My soul is a sensitive one and I wonder how of the many incidents I’ve been involved why Jay was the one that remains most. The answer is age old…IT HIT CLOSE TO HOME. He wasn’t just a kid…he could have been my kid, if fact for a disorienting moment (when reality hits twilight zone), I thought he was my kid. I can’t explain it and I don’t even want to. In all honesty, I don’t want to come off as some depressed figure to sympathize. I am not, I LIVE and enjoy my life. What I wanted was to give you a title background into my perspective as the person at the controls when these individuals (sometimes) look into your eyes and then make the final leap.

    Something about your post upset me…maybe even angered me. More COULD and SHOULD be done to help prevent these tragedies…when is it too much (your figures where off by the way). 2016 and 2017 in my recollection has been the worst years yet. Something is happening and by ignoring and doing nothing we perpetuate the problem, thus we are complicit. Veering off topic a bit…not exclusively, but I’ve noticed that more and more of the people taking this final step are “brown”. I’ll leave these words to linger unsaid. In fact… goodnight, before I say too much, vent too long. I do want to thank you though for taking a step into opening the discussion, it is long overdue.

    • Joseph Gonzales December 4, 2017 at 10:31 am - Reply


      I’m not suggesting that we ignore the loss of life on the tracks. The point I’m making here is that the solutions to this problem are not something the RTA is going to come up with. Neither the counties, the cities or any other government programs are going to change anyone’s outlook on life. Keeping trains clean and punctual is already a big challenge for these agencies. I certainly don’t expect them to heal the deep wounds of lost souls. That’s just a totally unrealistic expectation.

      It’s naive to say “something should be done” without acknowledging that the “something” is neither quick or easy. Those who commit suicide experienced bad things for years…and they likely didn’t experience a lot of good things that they really needed. White, brown or black…this stuff is worked out in families. The RTA can put fences all around the tracks and they can station a suicide counselor at every mile. But that’s not going to convince people that life is worth living.

      There are broken things in people’s hearts…and they certainly can be fixed. But it’s not likely that you (the engineer) or I (the passenger) is going to fix them for strangers. That’s why I didn’t try to offer solutions in my post. What I did mention is that if I had a chance to talk to a depressed person, I’d simply acknowledge their pain and encourage them to get around people who can listen and help.

  2. Romaine July 25, 2017 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Excellent article. It makes you stop and think.

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