Woman who lost her legs to a train copes with nightmare scenario
Nearly a year after a train severed both her legs while she was jogging, a Pompano Beach woman is struggling to rebuild her life.
Posted on Tue, Jun. 24, 2008reprint print email
BY ADAM H. BEASLEY
While she knows she is lucky to be alive, Cheryl Risse says nothing in her life is the same since losing her legs in the train accident.Cheryl Risse has to crawl to the bathroom, but she often wakes up in a dead sprint.
Her recurring nightmares have become expected, but no less terrifying.
One day, Risse, 33, hopes to walk down the aisle. But for now, she'd like merely to escape the haunting sound of trains rumbling past her Pompano Beach home six times a day.
It's been nearly a year since both Risse's legs were severed by a Florida East Coast Railway train after she tripped while jogging across tracks less than a mile from her home.
By all accounts -- hers included -- it is a miracle she survived the horrific July 5 accident.
The morning of the accident, Risse, an avid runner, tried to cross three sets of FEC tracks in the 2100 block of North Dixie Highway.
She wore iPod headphones as she ran through the open stretch of track -- not a legal crossing. She didn't see -- or hear -- FEC locomotive No. 421, which was backing up adjacent to boxcars that are often parked in the middle set of tracks.
Risse tripped, didn't get up in time, and the train's wheels severed both her legs, dragging her before she rolled free of the engine.
Still, Risse has a mountain of medical bills and no regular income with which to pay them.
And so, with the help of Fort Lauderdale attorneys Stephen L. Malove and Scott L. Henratty, she has filed a negligence lawsuit against FEC, the train's engineer and its brakeman.
The eight-count complaint states that the company should have known that pedestrians routinely cross the tracks at that location but did not post ''No Trespassing'' signs on the west side of the tracks.