This past Monday, a 70-year-old man from Longwood was attempting to cross the tracks of a SunRail train when he was struck and killed. The man, named as Steward Lashley, was an Orlando resident who was a well known face in his community as well as within the Christian Sharing Center in Longwood. According to those who knew him, Lashley was an avid biker who volunteered many personal hours towards fixing bikes that were then either sold through the thrift store at the Christian Sharing Center or donated to specific clients of the Sharing Center.
It is believed that Lashley was on his way home from collecting a needed piece of equipment from Olde Towne Cyclery when the incident occurred. Shortly before 3:20 in the afternoon, Lashley rode his bike close to Lake Mary Road and Ronald Reagan Boulevard. Sgt. Kim Montes, the spokesperson for the Florida Highway Patrol, said in the official statement that Lashley approached the SunRail tracks and then maneuvered around the already closed crossing gate. As he made his way from one side of the tracks to the other, a southbound SunRail train approached him and, unable to stop in time, struck and killed him.
While the incident was being investigated, the 25 people aboard the SunRail train were momentarily stranded. In order to ensure that the riders could complete their commute on time, busses were brought in to continue the transportation of the 25 individuals. The entire SunRail service between Lake Mary Road and Sand Laker Road was halted during the entirety of the police examination of the scene. Sgt. Montes reported that the SunRail line was reopened just after 6:00 in the evening.
The investigation into Steward Lashley’s death is still undergoing as his family and friends attempt to make sense of the sudden death of such a beloved member of their families. Currently, it is not known just why Lashley, a person who is by all accounts highly responsible and cautious, rode around the crossing gate or if there was perhaps some other explanation for what occurred.
None of the passengers aboard the SunRail train at the time of the incident were injured.
James O. Cunningham
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