Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Public safety

CSX vows changes after train stoppages in Dade City

DADE CITY — After being blasted by public officials, railroad giant CSX vowed to change its practices in the future.

The company pledged to notify local officials when a train is stopped — something it failed to do during two incidents in the past six weeks — and said crews have been told to separate train cars at railroad crossings to let drivers through.

"We understand the frustrations of residents and local officials and are making operational adjustments," wrote Kristin Seay, a CSX spokeswoman. "CSX will make every attempt to keep trains running through Dade City except under emergency circumstances."

On Tuesday, a 129-car freight train over a mile long stopped for 90 minutes during the morning traffic rush, blocking all but one intersection leading to the city's east side.

On July 11, a train sat on the tracks for five hours, finally moving about 6 p.m.

CSX representatives said the trains stopped because crews had reached the federally mandated limit of their work hours. Continuing after that point is referred to as "outlawing."

Dade City Manager Bill Poe said this week that he couldn't understand why CSX can't anticipate the time limits and stop the trains so they don't block crossings in his small town.

"They should know when they are about to run out of hours and send another crew," he said. "This is a dispatch problem."

The company sent a public apology later Tuesday, calling the incident an "inconvenience."

But that didn't appease Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco. He fired off an email to CSX in which he said the company's statement "shows an appalling lack of concern for the situation."

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, joined the criticism Thursday, saying the delays "represented an irresponsible and flagrant disregard for the public safety needs of our community."

Bilirakis said he initiated a Federal Railroad Administration investigation of the incidents.

"The people of Pasco do deserve better than this, and I will not rest until I receive assurances that those responsible will be held accountable and that proper plans are in place to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of our community," Bilirakis wrote.

After the followup email from CSX, Nocco seemed cautiously optimistic.

"We appreciate that CSX recognized this is a public safety issue, and it is a quality of life issue for Dade City residents," he said. "We hope that they stand by their word and it is proven in their actions."

Comments

Woman hit, killed while crossing road in Tampa

TAMPA — A pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing N 40th Street near E Hanlon Street on Wednesday night, according to Tampa police.The crash took place just before 8 p.m. The driver was heading north on 40th Street before strikin...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

After a prominent Hillsborough County developer died last month in North Carolina, word spread it was a heart attack that claimed his life.But records from that state show the death of William "Bill" Bishop was much more complicated.His 16-year-old s...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Coast Guard suspends search for man missing from Tampa cruise

Coast Guard suspends search for man missing from Tampa cruise

The Coast Guard announced Wednesday night that it has suspended the search for a man who was reported to have gone overboard from a cruise ship that left Tampa.Officials aboard the Carnival Paradise told the Coast Guard on Tuesday morning that Brian ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Three arrested for street racing after mother fatally struck pushing stroller on Bayshore Boulevard

Three arrested for street racing after mother fatally struck pushing stroller on Bayshore Boulevard

TAMPA — The two cars raced each other along Bayshore Boulevard just before noon, witnesses told police. One was a black 2018 Mustang. The other a gold Nissan. They sped side-by-side, trading the lead, police said, despite the traffic and pedestrians ...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Sinkhole opens up near Bayfront Health’s Brooksville hospital

BROOKSVILLE — A large sinkhole opened up by Bayfront Health Brooksville hospital in a water retention pond between State Road 50 and the hospital’s parking lot, according to a hospital spokeswoman.The sinkhole poses no threat to hospital buildings, e...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Clearwater deputy fire chief resigns as report on sick leave abuse is released

Clearwater deputy fire chief resigns as report on sick leave abuse is released

CLEARWATER — A months-long probe into abuse of sick leave within the fire department concluded this week with the resignation of a deputy chief and the release of an internal review.The city paid $93,816 in unearned or unauthorized sick time, benefit...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Wrong-way driver, 87, dies in head-on collision, FHP says

Wrong-way driver, 87, dies in head-on collision, FHP says

BROOKSVILLE— An 87-year-old wrong-way driver died Tuesday night when she collided head-on with an oncoming pick-up truck, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The crash took place at about 8:50 p.m. on Sunshine Grove Road near Webster Street.Patri...
Updated: 7 hours ago
FDLE: Victim in $480,000 scam is heiress to Wrigley gum fortune

FDLE: Victim in $480,000 scam is heiress to Wrigley gum fortune

A woman state authorities say was scammed out of $480,000 by two of her employees is an heiress to the Wrigley chewing gum fortune.The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed Tuesday that the victim in the case is Helen Rich, 69, formerly Hel...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Carlton: Lowering the American flag for the newly dead at school — again

Carlton: Lowering the American flag for the newly dead at school — again

In a scene repeated at public buildings across the country, the American flag in front of the library outside my office window was lowered to half-staff this week.This time for 10 dead in Texas.In February, the American flag was similarly half-staff ...
Published: 05/23/18
Largo man broke into jewelry store, cut himself on glass and bled all over everything, police say

Largo man broke into jewelry store, cut himself on glass and bled all over everything, police say

A Largo man was arrested Monday after police said he broke into the front door of a jewelry store and stole $10,000 in jewelry, but cut himself in the process and left blood all over the store.Police arrested Jaime Williams, 31, on a charge of burgla...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18