Tragic Train-SUV Collision Claims Six Lives, Including Three Children in Florida


A devastating collision between a train and an SUV in Hillsborough County, Florida, on Saturday evening has left six people dead, including three children, according to authorities.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister described the aftermath as a harrowing scene of destruction, likening the Cadillac Escalade SUV to a crumpled soda can. The freight train, traveling at speeds exceeding 55 mph, collided with the SUV, which was transporting seven individuals to a quinceañera celebration.

Video footage from a train-mounted camera revealed the SUV's driver approaching the crossing and proceeding across without halting to check for oncoming traffic, said Sheriff Chronister.

The train's conductor made every effort to decelerate as the vehicle approached, sounding prolonged horns and activating flashing lights as a warning. A witness near the tracks also sounded their horn in an attempt to alert the SUV's driver.

Following impact, Sheriff Chronister detailed that "the SUV, we can see from the video, begins to catapult and flip violently several times before it landed a distance from this crossing."

First responders and deputies swiftly arrived at the collision site just before 7 p.m. on Saturday, initiating rescue operations. They managed to extract the driver and front seat passenger from the SUV, rushing them to Lakeland Regional Hospital in critical condition.

Tragically, all five other passengers in the SUV were forcibly ejected and pronounced deceased at the scene. Sheriff's office spokesperson Jessica Lang confirmed to CNN that the SUV's driver passed away overnight in the hospital.

The deceased were identified as Julian Hernandez, 9; Jakub A. Lopez, 17; Alyssa Hernandez, 17; Anaelia Hernandez, 22; Enedelia Hernandez, 51; and Jose G. Hernandez, 52.

While the precise relationships between the victims were still being determined, Sheriff Chronister expressed, "I believe tonight Hillsborough County lost one of its families."

Sheriff Chronister conveyed the profound impact of the tragedy, stating, "Anyone who goes and sees the carnage that’s been created, whenever you compound that with the fact that some children lost their life here, maybe an entire family lost their life here tonight – we are all visibly shaken... We are rattled at our core after witnessing what happened here tonight."

Notably, the railroad crossing in question lacked level crossing arms that typically prevent vehicles from crossing when a train is passing through. It was marked only by a stop sign and a railroad crossing indicator, urging drivers to halt and look both ways.

The sheriff’s office is actively investigating the cause of the crash. The victims were identified as a family from Plant City, Florida.

CSX, a railway company involved, extended condolences and affirmed their cooperation with local law enforcement's ongoing investigation. In a statement, CSX stated, "There were no injuries to the crew of the train. CSX extends its deepest sympathies to everyone impacted by this tragic incident."