Train hits abandoned stolen vehicle

OKEECHOBEE — No one was injured Friday, Nov. 18, when a CSX train smashed into a stolen utility vehicle that was left abandoned on the tracks at N.W. 128th Avenue.

Deputy Gerard Vasquez, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), indicated in his report that the train slammed into the parked vehicle around 4 a.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at an estimated speed of 60 mph. The vehicle was in the middle of the tracks and was straddling the rails.

This is all that’s left of a 2005 Chevrolet utility vehicle that was stolen, then abandoned on the railroad track at N.W. 128th Avenue and then struck by a CSX freight train Friday, Nov. 25. No one was injured. Courtesy photo/OCSO.

This is all that’s left of a 2005 Chevrolet utility vehicle that was stolen, then abandoned on the railroad track at N.W. 128th Avenue and then struck by a CSX freight train Friday, Nov. 25. No one was injured. Courtesy photo/OCSO.

According to the deputy the 2005 Chevrolet four-door utility vehicle was stolen from a local company, but it was not yet clear if the keys had been left in the ignition. No one was in the vehicle.

“It should be noted that other vehicles on the property had keys left in the ignition,” stated the deputy’s report, regarding the local company’s parking lot. “The (stolen) vehicle was struck between the front and rear passenger side doors. It remained lodged on the front push bumper of the locomotive until it was removed by CSX employees.”

Chet Futch, CSX senior general foreman, reportedly told Deputy Vasquez the estimated damage to the locomotive would be $2,200.

CSX engineers Brian McCoy and James Young apparently told the deputy the train was westbound when it struck the vehicle.

Kristin Seay, CSX corporate communications, said the train was carrying various types of freight from Palm Beach to Winston.

“Train operations were suspended while the area was being cleared. Normal train operations resumed by noon that day,” stated Ms. Seay in a prepared CSX release.

None of the train’s crew were injured.

Deputy Vasquez pointed out that OCSO crime scene technologists will try to lift latent prints from the car. And, because the incident occurred on CSX property, that company’s investigators will be conducting their own probe.

OCSO Detective Howard Pickering is investigating the theft of the utility vehicle. If you have any information about this case, contact Detective Pickering at 863-763-34117, ext. 5117, and refer to case #16S26846.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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