Lakeland man possibly distracted by ear-buds hit by train

Jason Sullivan says he and Sheldon Sharpe spent several years homeless, living on the streets of Polk County together.  They bonded over the struggle.

"He was a brother he wasn't just a friend he was more than that," Sullivan said.

Both have since turned their lives around and now live just doors apart.

"One minute I'm talking to him he's all good happy," he said. "Next minute I'm hearing my best friend got hit by a train."

It happened around 6 o'clock Tuesday. Sharpe was walking back from the store when Polk County deputies say he was hit by a train near U.S. 92 in Lakeland.

He was known to walk with his ear-buds in and witnesses said he appeared to be distracted. Deputies also say he walked around the warning gates, which were down.

"The train was only going eight miles per hour, however the caboose that was being pushed by the locomotive did have some extensions on either side that struck the pedestrian," said Polk County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Carrie Horstman.

Polk County deputies dealt with several similar cases last year.

"When you're walking or jogging anywhere, if you're going to wear ear-buds or headphones, pay extra attention to where you're going; to vehicles; to trains; or just don't wear them," Horstman said.

"Maybe he was in his own world. He was off supposedly getting toilet paper," said Sullivan.

Sullivan says all he can do is pray for his friend as he fights for his life in the hospital.  He has a number of injuries, including multiple fractures.

"Prayer, prayer's the biggest thing right now," he said.