Share and Follow
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — At least five people are dead, and two others in critical condition, after a vehicle was struck by a train between 6:45 p.m. and 6:48 p.m. on Saturday.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said the crash happened on Highway 92 in the Jim Lefler Circle area.
“The word devastating doesn’t begin to describe the events and tragedy that unfolded,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a press conference.
The vehicle, a Cadillac Escalade, was on the way to a party when the driver approached the crossing, which didn’t have crossing arms, just a stop sign indicating to stop.
The freight train was traveling at 55 mph.
Camera footage obtained by deputies showed the driver slowly crawling across the railroad crossing but never stopped.
A witness who was parked nearby saw the scene unfold.
The conductor tried to signal with a horn to get the driver’s attention and slow down the train, but couldn’t.
The sheriff said the SUV catapulted and flipped several times a fair distance away from the crossing. A recorded voice on an iPhone indicated there was an accident, in which the department grabbed the coordinates of the phone and dispatched deputies.
“Looked like a soft drink can that was smashed,” Sheriff Chronister said in reference to the SUV. “It’s that horrible of a scene.”
The driver and front passenger, both men, were taken to Lakeland Regional Hospital in critical condition.
All other five individuals were “violently” ejected and killed.
Sheriff Chronister said there were four males and three females. At least two were children. He believes it involved a 10-year-old and a 14-year-old, but those ages are still being confirmed.
The sheriff said the family was on the way to a quinceañera.
This is a developing story. Stay up to date on the latest from News Channel 8 on-air and on the go with the free WFLA News Channel 8 mobile app.