Train slams into Fed-Ex truck off U.S. 301

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper walks around the scene of a crash involving a FedEx van and a train along U.S. 301 south of Hawthorne.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographerf
Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 5:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 5:08 p.m.

A Fed Ex driver was hospitalized with critical injuries when a train hit his van as he was crossing the tracks at a private drive off U.S. 301 south of Hawthorne.

An engineer on the CSX train, who would not give his name, said the train was southbound when he saw the van driven by Martin Beckles, 51, of Ocala creeping up to the track.

"He was easing up there. We thought he was going to stop but he just didn't stop," he said. "We were blowing the horn. I don't know what was going on with him."

Beckles was crossing the track in a westerly direction onto a private grass drive that curved south just over the crossing, FHP said. The crossing does not have a cross arm.

The train, which was en route to the Tampa/Bradenton area, slammed into the passenger side of the van. With two locomotives and more than 30 rail cars, it took the train about a half-mile to come to a stop. The passenger side door to the van was attached to the front of the lead locomotive.

Parts of the van, which ended up facing the tracks on the west side of the railroad, were strewn along CSX right of way and the private drive.

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Matthew Simmons said the crash happened about 4 p.m. He said Beckles was taken to UF Health Shands Hospital with critical injuries. Neither Simmons nor CSX officials at the scene knew the speed of the train when the collision occurred.

An area resident said he heard the train braking before the train came to a stop near his home.

"We were on the porch, and we looked up and he had a door on the front of his train," Walt Schneider said.

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