PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Plant City family is mourning a member of their large family after she was killed in an Amtrak train crash Friday night.
“She’s the best little cousin I could ever have,” said Audresha Lawrence. “I love her and I’m going to miss her.”
The family of Shantisa Turner gathered Friday night behind the yellow caution tape and flashing police lights. They told 8 On Your Side she was the victim in the deadly crash.
“I did just talk to her,” Lawrence said. “I just had a baby girl and she was supposed to meet my baby girl. And she didn’t get to meet her yet.”
The collision happened around 5 p.m. at the railroad tracks on Maryland Avenue, just south of Baker Street. The family says Turner lived down the street and crossed the tracks all the time.
Lawrence, Turner’s cousin, was at the state fair with her kids, husband and mom when she got the call.
“It’s just all the memories ran through my head of when we were little until now,” Lawrence said.
The family said many of them had just seen or talked to Turner within the last week.
“We’re a close-knit family, that’s why you see so many here,” said Daphine Britt, Turner’s aunt. “Because we are a close-knit family, you don’t see a lot of hysterical going, just shock.”
They’re still not exactly sure why she crossed the tracks.
“She thought she could make it,” Britt said. “She didn’t.”
That’s the guess from the Plant City Police Department too.
“We do have witnesses that say the train was coming,” said Lieutenant Matt Lawson. “The crossing arms were down and the pedestrian tried to run through the crossing arms.”
Michael Callanan used to be a conductor with Amtrak.
“Unfortunately, in that part of Hillsborough County,” Callanan explained. “It is notorious for this happening. You see it all the time.”
Callanan said the maximum speed for trains at this intersection is 79 miles per hour. Even though it’s unlikely this train was going that fast, even at 45 or 50 miles per hour, a train is still deadly.
“The sad thing about this too is, not only does it affect the person who passed away on the tracks and the family,” Callanan said. “The engineer who drives the train can do nothing but honk the horn.”
Now, Turner’s tight-knit family is leaning on each other a little more.
Turner’s family created a GoFundMe to help with her memorial, you can learn more and donate here.