[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
Six people are dead — including parents and three of their kids — after an SUV was struck by a train at a railroad crossing in Florida.
The incident occurred at about 7:00 p.m. local time on Saturday night along US Highway 92 in Hillsborough County. According to local law enforcement agencies there, a 2020 Cadillac Escalade was traveling south on Jim Lefler Circle coming off the highway when it tried to cross over the train tracks. Sadly, a train was approaching, and the SUV inexplicably drove right onto the tracks in front of it.
Six people riding in the car were killed in the horrific collision. Two have since been identified as 52-year-old Jose Guadalupe Hernandez, who was the driver of the SUV, and his wife, 50-year-old Enedelia Hernandez. Also killed were their three children riding in the car: Anaelia Hernandez, 22, Alyssa Hernandez, 17, and Julian Hernandez, 9. A friend of the family identified as 17-year-old Jakub A. Lopez was also killed in the crash. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that a seventh person — who was not named, and only identified as another “friend” of one of the family’s children — survived the accident with serious injuries.
In a release sent to multiple media outlets on Sunday, Sheriff Chad Chronister said investigators are still trying to figure out why Jose drove across the railroad tracks despite signs and lights warning of the coming train:
“For unknown and undetermined reasons, the driver slowly crossed the tracks directly in the train’s path. Five rear passengers were ejected from the Escalade as it rotated and rolled to final rest. The five ejected passengers died at the scene. [Jose] Hernandez and the front right passenger were transported to Lakeland Regional Hospital in critical condition [where they later died].”
In a follow-up interview with NBC News on Sunday night, Sheriff Chronister added:
“The word ‘devastating’ doesn’t begin to describe the events and tragedy that unfolded behind me this evening.”
Per that outlet, Chronister noted the locomotive’s conductor “did everything he could” to slow the powerful train down, including the employment of “loud train horns” and “flashing lights” in an attempt to get the driver’s attention. Sadly, it was all for naught.
In a release to ABC News later on Sunday, Chronister added:
“In the midst of desperation and senseless tragedy, our goal is to provide every available resource to those in need and lighten their unimaginable burden. Those impacted by this devastating loss were met with compassion and the highest level of professionalism while trying to navigate the unspeakable.”
Here is more on this tragic situation:
So, so sad.
We send our condolences to the family members, friends, and loved ones of the victims.
[Image via 10 Tampa Bay/YouTube]