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Ormond Beach’s Robert Harris, 18, Killed in Train Collision on a Trestle Off U.S. 1

| May 16, 2016

florida east coast highway tracks

Florida East Coast Railway tracks run through the heart of Bunnell and the length of Flagler County. The tracks, aside from where they cross public rights of way, are on private property. (© FlaglerLive)

Robert M. Harris, a resident of 1084 Peninsular Drive who turned 18 two weeks ago, was killed in a collision with a Florida East Coast train on a trestle behind the River Grille restaurant at 950 U.S. Highway 1 in Ormond Beach Sunday evening. He was pronounced dead just after 8 p.m.


Harris worked at the River Grille and had just finished his shift that evening. According to an Ormond Beach Police report, he’d called Samuel Boatner, 19, and another friend, telling them he needed to be picked up in the restaurant’s parking lot. As Boatner was driving there, he received a SnapChat image from Harris, showing Harris on the train trestle. When Boatner got there he noticed a train coming to a stop on the tracks, behind the trees, but didn’t see Harris. He contacted the staff at River Grille, but was told no one had seen Harris since he’d clocked out. Boatner called him several times. No one answered. When he went down to the tracks, he saw Harris with oen of the train’s crew members.

According to the report, conductor D.F. Penland and Engineer J.D. McGraw were piloting FEC train 111 south and approaching the trestle when they saw what they thought to be debris on the tracks, near the south end of the trestle. But as they got closer, they realized that what they were looking at was a person–Harris. They “threw the train into emergency,” the report states, sounding the horn and bells to alert Harris.

Initially Harris didn’t seem to hear the train, but then he got up and began running toward the south end of the trestle, away from the train. He fell once, then got up and continued running and fell again “where he disappeared out of view,” the report states. “The crew [said] they heard a sound and the train continued to slow until it came to [a] stop.”

Alex Barshay, the 25-year-old manager of the River Grille–owned by Ray Barshay, who owns Flagler Beach’s Funky Pelican–told authorities that Harris had not seemed upset while at work that day, but that he was feeling a bit under the weather, according to the report.

The investigation is continuing. The FEC train Engine 800, a GE Model ES44AC, is equipped with a video camera, but the police could not determine if the video equipment was on at the time of the collision. (The train had several engines in tow.) Harrios’s body was turned over to the Medical Examiner at the scene for a subsequent autopsy. Harris is the son of Robert Harris, 64, and Patricia Best, 55.

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7 Responses for “Ormond Beach’s Robert Harris, 18, Killed in Train Collision on a Trestle Off U.S. 1”

  1. Agnese says:

    So sad to hear, to much senseless tragedy in FlagCouty these last few weeks

  2. PeachesMcGee says:

    @Agnese – this incident occurred in Volusia County.

  3. Mary Crane says:

    Its so sad, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends.

  4. confidential says:

    Life is too precious to end at only eighteen. My sympathy to his family for their loss and the Almighty may welcome him in Heaven.

  5. Michella Anderson says:

    My deepest sympathy to the Harris family. I lost my son a month ago to a train accident, and the pain is unbelievable. God bless the Harris family.Your son is now your angel. Just look around and you will see him in everything.

  6. Jim says:

    RIP James F. and J.J. Both died on those tracks.

  7. cheryl white says:

    Robert Harris and family im Michael White sister Cheryl in Daytona Beach I’m crying right now Robert I have a 18year old my heart is sad and broke to pieces please call my prayer line it’s available 24/7 to anyone together we will

    P

    Make it through SWEET JESUS PLEASE SEND YOUR HOLY SPIRIT FIRST THEN ALL YOUR HEAVENLY HOST RIGHT NOW IN JESUS CHRIST OUR SAVIOR RIGHTEOUS NAME WE PRAY AND LOVE YOU OUR WONDERFUL AND AWESOME FATHER THANK YOU IN ADVANCE HALLELUJAH HALLELUJAH Ha

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