Six people are dead after authorities say a freight train collided with the SUV they were riding in. Seven people were in an SUV headed to a quinceanera in Plant City just before 6:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, when the vehicle crossed the railroad tracks, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a news conference streamed by WFLA.
“By viewing the camera footage, we see the driver of this SUV pull up and slow-crawl across the railroad crossing, but never stop. Never stop to look both ways,” Chronister said in the news conference. Chronister said there was also a witness parked nearby who saw the SUV approaching the intersection with the oncoming train and began honking his horn to try and warn the driver, WTSP reported.
The train hit the SUV, sending it catapulting and causing it to “flip violently” several times, Chronister said in a video of the news conference posted on the sheriff’s office’s Facebook page.
“As you can imagine, the carnage that’s created when these two collide,” Chronister said. Five people were “violently ejected” from the SUV and pronounced dead at the scene.g The driver and front seat passenger were taken to a hospital with critical injuries, Chronister said at the news conference. Later, it was reported that the driver, 52-year-old Jose G. Hernandez, died from his injuries, according to WTSP.
The other victims were identified as Enedelia Hernandez, 50, Jakub A. Lopez, 17, Alyssa Hernandez, 17, Anaelia Hernandez, 22, and Julian Hernandez, 9, WTSP reported. One 23-year-old passenger still remains in the hospital in critical condition, WTSP reported. “Pray for this family…Our hearts are shattered for the loss of this family and the tragedy that occurred here this evening,”
6 Chronister said at the news conference.
The railroad crossing had no crossing arms, just a stop sign, Chronister said. He said it’s because the road is not traveled on often and only leads to a few homes. “This road is a privately maintained road, an access road to a home,” rail safety expert Michael Callanan told WFLA. “There’s two homes back there I believe. It’s not a public thoroughfare road; it’s just a road to get to the house. Therefore it’s not required to have those warning devices there because it’s privately owned.”