The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said that just before 7 pm on Saturday, a Cadillac Escalade crossed the tracks into the path of a train going 55 mph (88 kph). The crossing does not have gates or a warning bell, only a stop sign and a railroad crossing sign.
Officials said the train’s engineer and a nearby car both sounded their horns and the engineer tried to stop, but it was too late. The impact flipped the SUV several times, ejecting the five passengers who died.
Sheriff Chad Chronister told reporters the SUV looked like “a soft drink can that’s been crushed.” He said it is unclear why the SUV moved into the train’s path.
“The word ‘devastating’ doesn’t even begin to describe the tragedy that unfolded here,” Chronister said. “Hillsborough County lost a family today, and our hearts are shattered.”
The names and ages of the victims have not been released.
Plant City is an agricultural town about 25 miles east of Tampa.
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