Five members of a family and a friend who were on their way to a birthday party were killed after the S.U.V. in which they were traveling was struck by a train Saturday evening at a quiet railroad crossing in Plant City, Fla., the local authorities said.
The wreckage of the white 2020 Cadillac Escalade looked like a “soft drink can that’s been smashed,” Sheriff Chad Chronister of Hillsborough County said at a news conference on Saturday, adding that the impact with the train caused the vehicle to “catapult and flip violently several times.”
Five passengers were ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. The driver and front passenger were transported to a hospital in serious condition, and the driver died at the hospital overnight, the authorities said.
The family and two friends were on their way to a quinceañera, a traditional 15th birthday party for a girl, that was being held at a home just across the railroad tracks, the authorities said.
“We are all visibly shaken,” Mr. Chronister said on Saturday. “We are rattled to our core tonight.”
The five passengers who died at the scene were identified as Enedelia Hernandez, 50; Jakub A. Lopez, 17; Alyssa Hernandez, 17; Anaelia Hernandez, 22; and Julian Hernandez, 9.
The driver was identified as Jose Guadalupe Hernandez, 52, the authorities said.
Enedelia Hernandez was Mr. Hernandez’s wife; the two minors and young adult woman were their children. The other two passengers were their children’s friends, said the authorities, who did not name the hospitalized passenger, whose condition was unclear on Sunday night.
Just before 7 p.m., the S.U.V. was crawling slowly, without stopping, over the tracks in Plant City, which is roughly 20 miles east of Tampa, before the collision, the authorities said. The crossing is not controlled by “crossing arms” but by signage — a stop sign and a railroad crossing indicator.
“The conductor of the train did everything he could to try to slow this train down,” Mr. Chronister said. “He signaled these loud train horns they’re equipped with, along with the flashing lights.”
A witness who was parked near the tracks also honked his vehicle’s horn to alert the people in the S.U.V., according to the sheriff. The authorities were still investigating on Sunday why the S.U.V. did not stop before entering the tracks.
The area of the crossing is little traveled, authorities said. A mobile home community and a string of homes sit on either side of the tracks.
Plant City, a community of approximately 40,000 residents, has experienced other deadly collisions at its train crossings.
Last year, an Amtrak passenger train rolling through the town collided with a truck at the same crossing, killing the truck’s driver. In 1977, at least 10 people were killed in a train collision when an Amtrak passenger train collided with a pickup truck in Plant City.
CSX, a freight company, operated the train that smashed into the Escalade on Saturday. A spokeswoman for CSX said that none of the train’s crew were injured, and that the company was cooperating with the authorities in the investigation of the crash.