April 30--FORT LAUDERDALE -- A Tri-Rail commuter train was heading toward a car that had just careened onto the tracks during the Tuesday afternoon rush hour. But the locomotive's engineer hit the brakes in time, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Even so, all rail service had been delayed in both directions for nearly an hour, and southbound Interstate 95 was backed up from Sunrise Boulevard to Copans Road
"They were fortunate enough to get the train stopped before it got too close," said Sgt. Mark Wysocky. Corinne Viscomi, of Fort Lauderdale, was not injured.
Ricardo Nord's 2005 Hyundai Tuscon had sideswiped Corinne Viscomi's 2008 Nissan Sentra in the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 around 5 p.m., Wysocky said.
The collision caused Viscomi, 53, to lose control of the Nissan, hurtle down a grassy embankment, through a chain-link fence, back up on the gravel railroad bed to finally rest across two sets of tracks, Wysocky said.
Southbound Tri-Rail engine 809 stopped about 50 yards from the car.
"The conductor notified the operations center that there was a car on the tracks," Tri-Rail spokeswoman Bonnie Arnold said. "He must have spotted her from a distance."
Nord, 27, of Lauderdale Lakes, tried to drive away but other I-95 motorists who witnessed the crash boxed him in with their cars until he pulled over, according to the FHP crash report.
Nord was charged with leaving the scene of a crash, driving with an expired license, driving on a learner's permit and careless driving, the report stated.
Arnold said the Nissan fortunately came to rest on a straight stretch of the tracks, enabling the engineer to see the vehicle from a distance. "Just lucky," she said.
"It really depends where they are on the corridor," she said of an engineer's ability to spot obstacles on the tracks. "[They] are pretty sharp that way."
There were 185 passengers on the train, Arnold said. By 6:12 p.m., the car was removed from the tracks, and Tri-Rail service returned to normal, she said.
Glenda Pullen, 59, said she's been riding Tri-Rail between Miami and Fort Lauderdale for five years. She was on her way home from work when she got stuck at the Sheridan Street station in Hollywood.
"They announced there was an accident and the train would be delayed like 45 minutes to an hour," she said. "We're used to it."
Ronald Scarberry, 25, was coming home to Fort Lauderdale from Tampa on the Amtrak Silver Star when it hit the brakes.
"About a half hour later we found out there was a car on the tracks, that's it," he said. "There was a tree on the tracks last time I rode the train so it's always something."
On I-95, the right lane was blocked near the Sunrise Boulevard exit, according to the state Department of Transportation's website.
Staff researcher Barbara Hijek and staff writer Juan Ortega contributed to this report.
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