Toddler hit and killed by train in Zephyrhills

- A toddler was killed and his babysitter was badly hurt after being hit by a train Monday morning in Zephyrhills.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office said that around 11:55 a.m., 2-year-old Hunter Fink and his 4-year-old sister were walking along the train tracks with their babysitter 26-year-old Heather Henderson and another adult, Cody Williams.

They were in the marshy area near Paul S. Buchman Highway and Pattie Road.

The tracks are elevated and take a sharp turn.

Investigators say the group couldn't see a train was coming.

"At the sharp turn, I believe they hear this train coming and they start running," said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco. "That conductor sees them on the bridge running. He starts laying on the horn. That conductor did everything he could to warn them."

Nocco said Williams grabbed the little girl and jumped down, suffering only minor injuries.

The other two were hit by the train.

Fink died at the hospital.

Henderson was last listed as stable.

"This train is 133 cars long moving at about 60 miles per hour," said Pasco County Fire Chief Shawn Whited. "It's just not going to stop on a dime. It's not going to see somebody and just stop. It's going to take a mile and a half to stop this train and that's exactly what it did. It hit those people and it took a while for it to stop."

"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," Nocco said.

Walking on or around the tracks is also against the law.

Investigators are looking into criminal charges.

But in the meantime, they're looking to comfort the family at lost a son and a brother.

"This is a tragedy," Nocco said. "There is no other way to say it. We are going to do everything we can to make sure this family gets a little bit of closure. But, the only thing that's really going to provide them closure is prayer. They need it right now."

People who live near these train tracks know the danger that follows the rumble.

"It's loud. You hear the train coming even though it don't blow the horn," said John Heminger.

They now share in the grief, knowing a child lost his life there.

"It's just a shame. That little boy didn't deserve anything like this," Heminger said.

Normal train operations resumed around 7 p.m Monday night.

Kristin Seay with CSX Corporate Communications said, "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."

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