Freight train hits SUV in Plant City, Florida killing six, one critical

"SUV, we can see from video begins to catapult, flip violently several times before it landed distance from crossing," say police

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Police vehicles can be seen at a crime scene in Florida. — Reuters/File
Police vehicles can be seen at a crime scene in Florida. — Reuters/File

Local media reported Sunday at least six people lost their lives and injured one after an SUV was hit by a freight train in Plant City, Florida while it was attempting to cross the railroad in Hillsborough County, local officials noted.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office stated: "Four males and three females were inside the SUV."

Local media reported that the family was heading to a quinceañera at the time of the incident.

During a news briefing, Sheriff Chad Chronister said: "The SUV, we can see from the video begins to catapult and flip violently several times before it landed a distance from this crossing."

Officials stated that the crash happened at about 6:45pm after a Cadillac Escalade was struck at US-92 and Jim Lefler Circle by a train travelling at 55 mph.

Sheriff Chad Chronister said: "As you can imagine, the carnage that’s created when these two collide. The SUV, we can see from the video begins to catapult and flip violently several times before it’s landed."

As the collision took place, the victims were violently ejected.

According to the details, the dead 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.

Officials noted that the survivor victim was at the front, 23-year-old Guillermo E. Gama III. The sheriff’s office said he is in critical condition at Lakeland Regional Health.

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 adding that "we're all visibly shaken."

"No one on the train suffered injuries in the crash,” authorities noted.

The crossing was not marked with crossing arms however, only a stop sign was visible. 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 while adding that "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."