The driver crossed the tracks despite a stop sign and witness’s warning, according to police
Six people are dead after a train hit an SUV crossing railroad tracks in Hillsborough County, Florida on Saturday, according to police.
The collision occurred around 7 p.m. when Jose Guadalupe Hernandez, 52, was driving his white 2020 Cadillac Escalade south on Jim Lefler Circle from US Highway 92, according to a Sunday press release by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Hernandez was “approaching a railroad crossing controlled by a stop sign and a railroad crossing sign,” the release stated, noting that six more passengers were in the vehicle, “including his wife, two juvenile children, an adult child, and two friends of the children.”
“For unknown and undetermined reasons, the driver slowly crossed the tracks directly in the train's path,” according to the release. “Five rear passengers were ejected from the Escalade as it rotated and rolled to final rest.”
“The five ejected passengers died at the scene,” per the release. “Hernandez and the front right passenger were transported to Lakeland Regional Hospital in critical condition.”
Hernandez later died as a result of his injuries alongside crash victims, Enedelia Hernandez, 50, Alyssa Hernandez, 17, Anaelia Hernandez, 22, Julian Hernandez, 9, and Jakub A. Lopez, 17, the sheriff’s office said. The name of the survivor — one of the friends of the children — has not been released.
“The word ‘devastating’ doesn’t begin to describe the events and tragedy that unfolded behind me this evening,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said at the scene during a news conference on Saturday night, per NBC News.
Chronister noted the train’s conductor “did everything he could” to slow the locomotive down, signaling “loud train horns that they’re equipped with, along with the flashing lights.”
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A witness parked close to the tracks was honking his horn to get Hernandez’s attention, Chronister added.
Referencing a video of the collision, Chronister said the Escalade "flipped violently several times" and landed "a distance" from the tracks, according to ABC News.
"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," Chronister said, per the Sunday news release. "Those impacted by this devastating loss were met with compassion and the highest level of professionalism while trying to navigate the unspeakable."
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