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Jeanmarie Baker, 61, Is Killed By FEC Train Just South of White Eagle Off U.S. 1 in Suicide

| March 20, 2017

FEC suicide railroad

The scene alongside the Florida East Coast rail line at dusk today, near Koronoa in Flagler County. (© FlaglerLive)

Jeanmarie Baker, 61, was struck and killed by a southbound train on the Florida East Coast Railway early this evening in Korona, near the White Eagle Lounge just south of Palm Coast.


The collision took place about half a mile north of the closest railroad crossing at Cemetery Road off U.S. 1, on a segment of railroad that would not be accessible except to someone intentionally walking or riding on the railroad’s right of way, suggesting to authorities that it may be a suicide.

“That’s exactly what we believe occurred,” Sheriff Rick Staly said this evening. “There is more evidence but I don’t want to interfere with FHP’s investigation. But I can tell you, based on the evidence and what my watch commander is telling me, it appears to be a deliberate act resulting in suicide.”

An incident report issued by the Florida Highway Patrol early Tuesday morning confirmed the inference. The report stated that Michael Holmes, the train engineer for the Florida East Coast Railroad driving the train, said “as he was traveling southbound upon the railroad tracks, he observed a vehicle to the right. The vehicle was parked next to the railroad tracks, on an access road. The vehicle was approximately 2,097 feet from the railroad crossing on Florida East Coast Railroad’s property. The Train Engineer stated that a female, Ms. Baker emerged from the parked vehicle, and ran towards the railroad tracks. The Train Engineer observed Ms. Baker had laid on the tracks in a prone position. The Train Engineer stated he applied the brakes as the train was approaching her. The Train Engineer was unable to stop the train in time. The incident was immediately reported by the Train Engineer to his dispatcher. It was later discovered that on today’s date, 3-20-17, Ms. Baker’s boyfriend had contacted the Port Orange Police Department to report Ms. Baker as a suicidal subject.”

Baker was from Deltona. Her vehicle was found nearby. The vehicle was not involved in the incident.

The incident took place at around 7:20 p.m. It involved the Florida East Coast Railroad’s southbound train Number 107, on a freight run from Jacksonville to Miami. Ten to 12 trains cross the county daily, said Flagler County Emergency Management’s Bob Pickering, who has encyclopedic knowledge of trains locally and beyond. The FEC, he said, owns the trains, the right of way and the signage along the way. It is a past recipient of the E. H. Harriman Award for safety.

The trains run on Automatic Train Control, ensuring that they do not exceed posted speed limits or miss safety signals. The limit is around 45 or 50 in the area of the collision, because of curves, with maximum speeds anywhere on the FEC topping off at 60 mph.

This evening, the front of the train had come to a stop two or three hundred yards south of the point of impact (and well north of the crossing at Cemetery Road), and was idle as night was falling and Bunnell Police Department officers and Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies were waiting for the arrival of a Florida Highway Patrol traffic homicide investigator. Traffic on U.S. 1 would not be aware that anything was amiss, a thick line of woods buffering the railroad from the highway there.

The last serious incident involving a train in Flagler County dates back to the May 2009 derailment of a 68-car FEC train, at Hargrove Grade in palm Coast, because of bowed tracks. “Same train, Train 107, it hit a sun kink, ironically on National Train Day,” Pickering remembers. “Sun kinks” cause tracks to buckle because of extreme heat. The 2009 incident caused minor injuries but required a $100,000 clean-up effort, including hazardous materials clean-up.

The last death on a Flagler County rail segment took place in the mid-1990s, Pickering says–a suicide, which took place after a man had parked his vehicle on the tracks and waited for a train to strike him. Last year 37 Floridian pedestrians were killed by trains in the state, and 265 people were killed across the country.

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5 Responses for “Jeanmarie Baker, 61, Is Killed By FEC Train Just South of White Eagle Off U.S. 1 in Suicide”

  1. Elaine says:

    First of all my heart goes out to the engineer of the train. What a horrible experience to be engrained in his/her mind forever. Sadly, the mental health program in this country is so lacking. True people have to seek out the help, but often times they’re prescribed meds with no follow-up and then there’s the concern over insurance. I don’t have the answer, but it sure needs addressing as it is a very serious/sad true problem. Secondly, condolences to the family/friends of this lady – may she rest in eternal,peace now.

  2. USA Lover says:

    @Elaine. You are 100% correct. “There’s a pill for everything”,so say the doctors,aka pill mills. Unfortunately,that’s far from the truth. There may be a pill for everything for a temporary fix,but it’s short lived. I had hernia surgery four years ago and the doctor prescribed Oxycodone for the pain with one caveat. DO NOT GET ADDICTED TO THIS DRUG. I lay in front of the tv one day in pain and took a pill and went of into dream land waking up several hours later. My point? It worked and I got a buzz that sent me away for a few hours. The point I’m making is that as Elaine said,with all the pill pushers out there,they’re not diagnosing things as they should,rather putting Band-Aids on them. I hope this lady didn’t feel any pain and her death was very quick. Thank you Flagler Live for the professional reporting and bringing this dreaded thing called suicide to everyone’s attention. My sympathy to her friends and families.

  3. Bc says:

    If some is hell bent on killing ones self they will do it all the help in the world won’t stop them. May she Rest In Peace.

  4. Howard Duley says:

    What a sad situation. I can’t understand the desperation that would lead one to take such drastic action. If an individual is terminal and in excruciating pain then I could understand it better. I have had friends that have done it because of emotional troubles which could have been solved over time.

  5. Kurt Topel says:

    I feel bad for the woman, her family, and the employees of the railroad, all of whom deserve our sympathy.
    I’d like to point out some things about the story.
    First of all, the link to Operation Lifesaver’s (OLI) website, highlighted in the last paragraph, is misleading for a couple of reasons: That OLI figure is for fatalities at CROSSINGS. The above death is a TRESPASSER (not at a crossing), and as stated in the article, likely a SUICIDE.
    The REAL number of people who died on the rails in 2016 is not 265, but well over 1,000 (about 450 trespassers, 325 suicides, and 250 crossing deaths, plus a small number of others). The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) makes it very difficult to know how many people die on the rails each year, but if you are handy with queries, go to http://safetydata.fra.dot.gov/OfficeofSafety/Default.aspx. You will find reports that give totals of deaths. But, if you do the queries, be mindful that the number the FRA publishes as “Total Fatalities” does not include ANY suicides. The FRA does not consider a death like the one reported above as a fatality.

    Separately, I ask all editors to try to give as little detail about a suspected suicide as possible. This article was not lurid, but it was pretty specific about locations and prior behaviors. In a very small number of cases, people with suicide ideation are triggered by reports of public completed suicides, especially if the means are available to them, which railroad tracks inevitably are.

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