On Saturday night, a collision between a freight train and an SUV at a rail crossing in the U.S. state of Florida resulted in the tragic loss of five lives, according to law enforcement.
The driver of the SUV approached the Plant City crossing, which had only signage as a control measure, and proceeded through without checking for oncoming traffic, as indicated by Sheriff Chad Chronister during a press conference. This assessment was based on video footage and eyewitness accounts.
Sheriff Chronister explained that the train conductor made every effort to slow down the train and used horns and lights to alert the driver. However, the collision caused the car to be catapulted and to flip several times before landing a distance away from the crossing.
Tragically, five of the seven passengers, including some children, were ejected from the vehicle and lost their lives. Emergency responders had to use the jaws of life to extract the driver and front passenger, who are currently in critical condition in the hospital, Sheriff Chronister added.
The train was reportedly traveling at approximately 55 mph (88 kph) at the time of impact, as previously noted by Sheriff Chronister on social media.
Though the police were still in the process of identifying the victims, Sheriff Chronister believed that they were a family en route to a nearby quinceanera party, a Latin American celebration marking a girl’s 15th birthday.