07-30-2004, 08:59 AM #1Former Member
- Join Date
- Aug 2003
- In heels
Suicide by train seems popular in Florida
One afternoon Derrick Edwards was sitting outside his apartment, soaking his tender ankle in a bucket of water and Epsom salts, when without a word to anyone he put his right shoe back on and walked a block east to meet the train.
As engine 504 rumbled north through Riviera Beach at 38 miles an hour, engineer Gary Gilsinan and brakeman Chris Hall of the Florida East Coast Railway saw what was about to happen. But there was nothing they could do.
As the train drew near, Edwards lay down across the tracks, crossed his arms, and looked toward heaven. Then the freight train cut him in half.
Those who choose to step into the path of a train account for a relatively small number of the average 2,300 Floridians who commit suicide each year. But dying beneath the wheels of a 200-ton locomotive suggests a particular horror. It is an act that is unimaginably gruesome, public and involves unwilling accomplices.
"It's rather a helpless feeling, to sit up there and watch it," said Hall, who needed several hundred yards to stop engine 504 after it struck Edwards.
More train-pedestrian fatalities take place in Palm Beach and Broward counties than anywhere else in Florida. Since January 2001, more than 30 percent of all the state's "trespasser deaths," as they are labeled by the Federal Railroad Administration, have occurred in the two counties.
This year, seven pedestrians have been killed by trains in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Most were ruled suicides by county medical examiners.
Any suicide leaves many victims. In the wake of each death are family members and friends haunted by thoughts of what they might have done to head off the act. But suicide by train is unusual because it also involves others -- the train's crew.
You never prepare for it," said Gilsinan, 36, of Port St. Lucie. "But everybody's going to experience some trauma, and when you do, you just have to move on."
Not taken seriously
Edwards, 46, well-known on the streets of his hometown for his eccentric ways and his nickname, Dirt, had talked of ending his life for so many years that no one took him seriously.
"I'm still shocked," said longtime friend Edward Hollis, who often gave Edwards a lift to a clinic where he received medication for depression.
In South Florida, a populous coastal corridor dissected by two major rail lines that pass several hundred street crossings, freight and passenger trains are vital to commerce and transportation. Many residents who live near the tracks view trains as a noisy nuisance. For motorists they are often a curse.
But for the troubled, trains can seem a sure-fire way out.
08-02-2004, 02:16 PM #2Registered User
- Join Date
- Sep 2003
- Wellington, FL
I've driven over those tracks in Riveria Beach many times. When stopped for a train, I never thought about it being a suicide hotspot. But then again, I was more worried about getting carjacked in those parts."It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." - Mark Twain