Fox 13 reported a tragic incident on Saturday night, a collision between a train and an SUV has resulted in the deaths of six individuals, while one person remains in critical condition at the hospital, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
The devastating crash occurred shortly before 7 p.m. at the intersection of US-92 and Jim Lefler Circle in Plant City, FL. Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister revealed that, based on video footage and witness statements, the SUV inexplicably entered the path of the oncoming train.
Tragically, three adults and two juveniles lost their lives at the scene of the accident. Additionally, two adults, identified as the driver and the front passenger, sustained life-threatening injuries and were rushed to the hospital. First responders utilized the Jaws of Life to extricate them from the wreckage.
Regrettably, the driver of the SUV passed away overnight due to the injuries sustained in the collision. The front passenger remains in critical condition at Lakeland Regional Hospital.
Authorities reported that the freight train was traveling within the designated speed limit of 60 miles per hour, while the SUV, a Cadillac Escalade, was observed on video footage approaching the railroad crossing and proceeding to "slow crawl" across without coming to a stop or checking for oncoming trains, as stated by Sheriff Chronister.
Sheriff Chronister emphasized that the train conductor made every effort to minimize the impact of the collision. The train's loud horns blared, and the flashing lights were activated to alert the SUV driver. Despite these measures, the SUV was violently flipped multiple times before coming to rest a significant distance away from the crossing.
Expressing his condolences, Sheriff Chronister addressed the community, stating, "I believe tonight Hillsborough County lost one of its families. I want to take just a moment to ask this community to say an extra prayer tonight. Say an extra prayer tonight for the first responders, for the deputies who had to go out here and as they were canvassing the area looking for survivors, unfortunately only found more people that lost their lives from this tragedy, this violent car crash, this violent SUV versus train crash that we had here this evening."
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is continuing its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the collision and is working to provide support to the families affected by this heartbreaking incident.
Train accidents can cause devastating consequences, and it is crucial for victims and their families to understand their legal right to seek justice. To get a better understanding of the available legal options, we had the privilege of speaking with Attorney Michael Haggard, an experienced train accident lawyer based in Florida. Attorney Haggard shared valuable information about the legal options available to victims and their families, including the steps to navigate the legal process and protect your rights in the aftermath of train accidents.
Darla Medina (DM): Thank you for being here, Mr. Haggard.
Michael Haggard (MH): Thank you, Darla. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this important topic with you.
DM: In light of the recent train collision in Plant City, many families may be wondering what legal recourse they have. Can you shed some light on the options available to train accident victims and their families?
MH: Certainly, Darla. When it comes to train accidents, victims and their families may have the ability to file a lawsuit against the parties responsible for the accident. This can include the train operator, the entity responsible for maintaining the railroad tracks, equipment manufacturers, or even governmental agencies overseeing the transportation system.
DM: That's valuable information, Mr. Haggard. What factors typically determine liability in train accident cases?
MH: Liability in train accident cases often depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the incident. However, common factors that may contribute to liability include negligence, faulty maintenance or design of the tracks or train equipment, inadequate safety measures, or even violations of industry regulations. Thorough investigation and expert analysis are crucial in identifying and establishing liability.
DM: How can victims and their families navigate the legal process and ensure their rights are protected?
MH: Seeking legal representation from a skilled train accident attorney is crucial. An experienced attorney can guide victims and their families through the legal proceedings, help gather evidence, consult with experts, and build a strong case. It's vital to act promptly, as there are time limitations for filing a lawsuit.
DM: That's sound advice, Mr. Haggard. How can individuals find the right attorney to handle their train accident case?
MH: It's important to choose an attorney with a proven track record in handling train accident cases. Look for an attorney who specializes in personal injury law, has successfully handled similar cases, and possesses in-depth knowledge of local laws and regulations. Seeking recommendations from trusted sources, researching online reviews, and scheduling initial consultations can help individuals find the right attorney for their specific needs.
DM: Thank you, Mr. Haggard, for sharing your insights on this matter. Your knowledge is invaluable for those seeking justice and compensation in the aftermath of such tragic accidents.
MH: It was my pleasure, Darla. I hope that by providing this information, we can help victims and their families understand their legal rights and take necessary steps towards holding responsible parties accountable.