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closeup of damaged car after a train collided with it on the railroad tracks
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Plant City, FL – In a tragic incident on Saturday, September 23, 2023, a collision between a train and an SUV resulted in the death of six individuals, while one person remains in critical condition at a local hospital. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has provided preliminary details regarding the incident that occurred at a crossing on US-92 near Jim Lefler Circle in Plant City, Florida.

Fatal Train Accident

According to Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, the SUV entered the train’s path for reasons yet unknown. Video footage from the front of the train revealed that the Cadillac Escalade approached the railroad crossing and “slow crawled across the railroad crossing, but never stopped, never stopped to look both ways,” said Chronister.

Tragic Loss of Lives

Tragically, three adults and two juveniles lost their lives at the scene of the incident. 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, 52-year-old Jose G. Hernandez, succumbed to his injuries overnight. The front passenger, 23-year-old Guillermo E. Gama III, remains in critical condition at Lakeland Regional Hospital.

Efforts to Prevent the Train Crash

Sheriff Chronister emphasized that the train conductor made every effort to avert the collision. The conductor activated the train’s loud horns and flashing lights in an attempt to warn the SUV. Despite these measures, the SUV flipped violently multiple times before landing a significant distance away from the crossing.

A Community Mourns After the Fatal Accident

Sheriff Chronister expressed his condolences to the affected families and called for the community’s support. He stated, “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.”

Investigation Underway to Determine Liability

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is currently conducting a detailed investigation into the circumstances surrounding the collision. They will analyze the available evidence, including video footage and witness statements, to determine the factors contributing to this devastating incident.

Support for the Train Accident Victims and Their Families

As the community grapples with the loss of six lives and hopes for the recovery of the critically injured individual, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims’ families and friends. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office urges the community to rally together during this difficult time and extend their support to those affected by this tragic accident.

Seeking Justice and Compensation After a Train Crash

In a recent interview, Attorney Laurence Banville sat down with Florida train accident lawyer Michael Haggard, Esq. This interview discussed the legal options available for victims and their families when seeking justice after an injury or death related to a train accident.

Attorney Laurence Banville (LB):┬áThank you for being here, Michael. In light of the recent devastating train accident, I believe it’s important to discuss what options victims and their families may have in pursuing civil cases against those responsible.

Attorney Michael Haggard (MH): Thank you for having me, Laurence. It’s a crucial topic to address, especially during such tragic circumstances. Train accidents can result in catastrophic consequences, and it’s essential that victims and their families understand their rights and available legal recourse.

LB: Absolutely, Michael. Could you walk us through the general approach victims of train accidents and their families can take when considering a civil case?

MH: Certainly, Laurence. It’s crucial to determine liability. Investigations are conducted to uncover the cause of the accident, whether it was due to negligence on the part of the train operator, inadequate maintenance of the crossing, or other factors. Once liability is established, victims and their families may be able to pursue compensation through a civil lawsuit against the responsible parties.

LB: What types of compensation can victims and their families seek in such cases?

MH: Victims and their families may be entitled to various forms of compensation. It can include medical expenses, both current and future, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and, in the unfortunate event of a fatality, wrongful death damages. Consulting with an experienced train accident attorney is crucial in assessing the specific damages and building a strong case.

LB: Speaking of legal representation, what should victims and their families look for when selecting a train accident attorney?

MH: It’s vital to choose an attorney with experience in handling train accident cases, as they are complex and require specialized knowledge. Look for a lawyer who has a successful track record in handling similar cases and a deep understanding of the relevant laws and regulations. Additionally, a compassionate attorney who will prioritize the well-being of their clients is essential, as these cases can be emotionally challenging.

LB: Thank you for sharing that advice, Michael. Lastly, what would you say to victims and their families who may be hesitant about pursuing a civil case?

MH: I understand that taking legal action may seem overwhelming during such a difficult time, but it’s important to remember that pursuing a civil case can provide both financial compensation and a sense of justice. Holding accountable those responsible for the accident can help prevent similar incidents in the future. It’s helpful to consult with an attorney who can guide you through the legal process and fight for your rights.

LB: Thank you, Michael, for shedding light on this important matter and offering valuable insights. Your expertise and dedication to helping train accident victims and their families are commendable.

MH: Thank you, Laurence. It’s been a pleasure discussing this crucial topic, and I hope it provides some clarity for those affected by train accidents.

Free Consultations for Victims of Train Accidents

The time following any accident is a difficult time for all involved; it is crucial for victims and their families to be aware of their legal options. If you or a loved one have been affected by a train accident, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation with an experienced attorney like Michael Haggard. An experienced attorney can provide valuable guidance, assess your case, and help you understand the legal avenues available to pursue justice and rightful compensation. Remember, you don’t have to face this challenging situation alone – reach out for a consultation and let a skilled attorney advocate for your rights and interests.

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