TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Six people, the youngest just 9 years old, are dead after a tragic crash between a freight train and an SUV in Florida. died Sunday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said the crash happened at about 6:45 p.m. after a Cadillac Escalade carrying a family and a friend of theirs was struck by a train traveling 55 mph in Plant City.
The family was heading to a quinceañera at the time of the incident, according to authorities.
Deputies said video they obtained from the crash shows the SUV slowly moving across the railroad but never coming to a stop. The train’s conductor tried signaling to the driver with a horn, authorities added, and was unable to slow the train.
“As you can imagine, the carnage that’s created when these two collide,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “The SUV, we can see from the video begins to catapult and flip violently several times before it’s landed.”
The victims of the crash were “violently” ejected upon impact, killing six of them and critically injuring another.
The deceased victims were identified as driver Jose G. Hernandez, 52; Enedelia Hernandez, 51; Jakub A. Lopez, 17; Alyssa Hernandez, 17; Anaelia Hernandez, 22; and Julian Hernandez, 9.
The surviving victim was said to be the front passenger, 23-year-old Guillermo E. Gama III. The sheriff’s office said he is in critical condition at Lakeland Regional Health as of Sunday morning.
Chronister said the scene was horrific to see, describing the family’s SUV as a “soft drink can that was smashed.”
“I think anyone who has seen the carnage that’s been created, whenever you compound that with children lost their lives here, maybe an entire family, maybe an entire family lost their life here tonight,” Chronister said Saturday night. “We’re all visibly shaken.”
No one on the train suffered injuries in the crash, officials said.
The train crossing did not have crossing arms, only a stop sign. However, rail safety expert Michael Callanan said the road was not meant for public traffic.
“This road is a privately maintained road, an access road to a home,” Callanan said. “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.”