Amtrak train fatally strikes 11-year-old wearing headphones, looking at phone

Posted at 4:04 PM, Jan 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-04 18:06:05-05

HAINES CITY, Fla. – An 11-year-old Florida girl died Wednesday afternoon after she was hit by an Amtrak train while crossing the tracks, according to police.

The train’s engineer told investigators that the girl, identified as Yazmin White, of Haines City, had headphones in her ears and was looking at her cellphone when the train hit her, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Department.

She was pronounced dead at the scene, just a few hundred feet from her family’s home.

“She certainly didn’t hear the train or she wouldn’t have walked up on the track,” Sheriff Grady Judd said at a press conference Thursday. “The engineer blew that horn solid for probably a quarter of a mile.”

The train, with 12 passenger cars and two locomotives, was traveling at 68 mph at the time of the accident, according to officials.

The conductor, who isn’t expected to face charges, said he tried to brake and blew the horn multiple times but White never looked up, WFTS reported.

Relatives told the station that the middle schooler had dreams of a career in music and loved the piano.

Judd said he could think of at least five children who had died locally in the last couple years after being hit while listening to headphones.

“You don’t die when you’re 11 years old, you’re teflon, you’re going to live forever,” Judd said. “The absolute last thing she thought about was being run over by a train.”

He added that his words shouldn’t be taken as a condemnation of the young victims, who are not thinking about death when they’re listening to their favorite music.

“It rips our heart out,” Judd said. “That could be our child or grandchild, just as easy.”