Tragedy strikes in Zephyrhills, Florida, when a 2-year-old boy was hit and killed by a CSX train while walking with his babysitter on Monday, according to WTSP.
Pasco County police officials say 26-year-old Heather Henderson was babysitting Hunter Fink and his 4-year-old sister, Madison, while the mother was at work. At around 11:30 a.m., she decided to take them for a walk in the area of Pattie Road and Paul S. Buchman Highway, which is private property, along with her friend Cody Williams, 27.
The four began playing near a pond before walking on a train track, which was located on an 8-foot bridge, when a 133-car CSX freight train suddenly came around the bend, traveling at 60 mph.
It was reported that the conductor did not see the four people walking on the train tracks until the last minute and quickly gave a warning by sounding his horn – that’s when Henderson grabbed Hunter and Williams grabbed Madison and began running.
Williams soon realized that he wasn’t going to make it towards the end of the train tracks where he would be able to exit the bridge. Therefore, he jumped into the water below the bridge while holding Madison.
Henderson continued running with Hunter in her arms, but they were unable to make it to safety and were tragically hit by the train.
The CSX train, which was traveling from Tampa to Georgia, wasn’t able to come to a complete stop until a mile and a half after hitting the babysitter and the toddler in Zephyrhills.
Emergency medical services and fire rescue arrived at the scene and transported Henderson to an area hospital, where she is being treated after suffering head trauma and a broken arm.
She is listed in stable condition.
Hunter was taken to a local hospital by ambulance and was later airlifted to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, where he died from his injuries after being hit by a train.
Williams and Madison sustained minor injuries after jumping into the water in a bid to save their lives.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco called the train accident a “tragedy,” adding that “there’s no other way to say it. There is a family that is suffering greatly right now, more than anybody can imagine. If you can pray for them, please do.”
“If there’s anything that can be taken from this, maybe it’s that other people take this and realize that playing on these tracks is not a game.”
“If you have train tracks going through your yard, it’s not a play area. It was a mile-long train that weighs tons – that thing can’t stop on a dime. It’s not a car, it’s not a bicycle,” the sheriff added.
Nocco went on to say that “you can hear the horn all the time and it’s a warning for you to stay off the tracks, but you don’t need a horn to know that.”
Walking on the train tracks is reportedly against the law and people in the area are aware of the danger that follows, saying “it’s loud. You hear the train coming even though it don’t blow the horn,” said John Heminger.
“It’s just a shame. That little boy didn’t deserve anything like this.”
CSX officials were also at the scene, conducting their own investigation and began their normal train operation at 7 p.m. the same day.
Kristin Seay, who is with CSX Corporate Communications, stated that “CSX’s thoughts and deepest sympathies are with all involved. CSX representatives are supporting the investigation being led by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.”
It was not immediately made clear if Henderson will face criminal charges in the death of 2-year-old Hunter, but the Pasco County police officials are investigating the train accident.
[Featured Image by EZP/iStock]