Six Killed When Train Strikes SUV at Unguarded Florida Rail Crossing

September 26, 2023

PLANT CITY, Fla. (AP) — Three adults, two teens and a child from an extended family died after their SUV was struck by a freight train at an unguarded crossing in central Florida, authorities said. Another adult remained hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff`s Office said that just before 7 p.m. Saturday, a Cadillac Escalade driven by Jose G. Hernandez, 52, crossed the tracks into the path of a train going 55 mph (88 kph). The crossing does not have gates or a warning bell, only a stop sign and a railroad crossing sign.

Officials said the train`s engineer and a nearby car both sounded their horns and the engineer tried to stop, but it was too late. The impact flipped the SUV several times, ejecting the five passengers who died at the scene. Hernandez died later.

Sheriff Chad Chronister told reporters the SUV looked like “a soft drink can that’s been crushed.” He said it was unclear why the SUV moved into the train`s path. The family was headed to a birthday party at a home just on the other side of the tracks. The road is lightly traveled, which is why it doesn`t have crossing gates or lights, the sheriff said.

“The word ‘devastating’ doesn’t even begin to describe the tragedy that unfolded here,” Chronister said. “Hillsborough County lost a family today, and our hearts are shattered.”

Hernandez died Sunday at a hospital. Five others died at the scene: Enedelia Hernandez, 50; Anaelia Hernandez, 22; Jakub A. Lopez and Alyssa Hernandez, both 17; and Julian Hernandez, 9. The sheriff`s office did not immediately say how the victims were related.

Plant City is an agricultural town about 25 miles (40 km) east of Tampa.

Topics Florida Numbers

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