Motorcyclist dies after crashing into railroad crossing arms

47-year-old was zookeeper at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A motorcyclist died after crashing into railroad crossing arms that were down on Zoo Parkway on the Northside on Wednesday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

State troopers said CSX was testing the crossing arms at Parker Avenue about 9:10 a.m. when 47-year-old Steven Gott (pictured below) struck one of them and was thrown from the bike.

The motorcycle kept going and stopped a quarter-mile away at a gas station.

A couple of motorists and a cellphone tower crew went to Gott's aid. He was taken to UF Health Jacksonville, where he died.

Troopers said Gott didn't realize the crossing arm was down, and by the time he did he couldn't stop in time. They said the crossing was fully functional, with the arms down and the lights on.

"First, our condolences are with the family of Mr. Gott," CSX spokeswoman Kristin Seay said in a statement. "CSX was conducting periodic testing of the crossing warning device at the Zoo Parkway crossing this morning. The incident is currently under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol."

Gott, a zookeeper at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for 12 years, was on his way to work when he crashed. He was the supervisor of the reptile and amphibious section at the zoo.

"This is a really rough day for us here at the zoo. We lost somebody who's a family member," said Dan Maloney, of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. "He was a tremendous, terrific guy. We're all still stunned and in disbelief. But we'll miss so many things about him, and we're still just grieving at this point."

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