Calls for safety as friends mourn teen killed by SunRail train

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As friends and family of Marcees Kilpatrick came together to celebrate his life, many couldn’t help but cringe at the sound of the SunRail train passing by every half hour.

On Tuesday night, they held a vigil for the 13-year-old in the empty lot at Historic Goldsboro Blvd. and Dixie Way in Sanford; the lot that borders the train tracks where he died.  

On Friday night, Marcees was crossing the SunRail tracks with his bike and was struck.   The spot is marked with a “No Trespassing” sign, but neighbors said people can be seen crossing in that area all day every day. Currently that sign is the only thing blocking people from the tracks.

"Did we really have to have a kid get killed to get what we need to protect our kids here?" said Starregina Lawrence, a family friend of Kilpatrick’s who organized Tuesday’s vigil.

Lawrence said since the accident Friday many people in the neighborhood have questioned why more protection didn’t go up there when the Sunrail started going through, or why some sort of bridge wasn’t added to get pedestrians safely to the other side.

A representative for the Florida Department of Transportation said in a statement:

Safety is the Florida Department of Transportation’s top priority. FDOT has identified this area as a candidate for safety enhancements. Current measures include no trespassing signage. Proposed enhancements include installing fencing in an attempt to curtail cut-through foot traffic and trespassing on the mainline rail corridor. The proposed project is currently in the development stage. SunRail urges everyone to be careful around railroad tracks.

That representative said that the process to build something at that spot is moving on about as fast a track as it can, but planning, even for a fence, takes time.

During the vigil Tuesday, friends and classmates described Kilpatrick as an outgoing kid and a light in their lives. For his legal guardian and his parents it was the first time they’d been able to bring themselves to come to those tracks since Marcees’s death.

"It's been heck,” said his guardian Eunice Beasley. “I don't sleep at night. I wake up thinking he's in his room, but he's not there and it hurts me so bad."