Friend: Train crash victim 'could light up a room'
34-year-old mother dies Monday when train hits SUV in Orange Park
ORANGE PARK, Fla. – Family and friends are mourning a mother who was killed Monday when the SUV she was driving was hit by a train in Orange Park.
Eryn Spillers, 34, was killed on Shenandoah Drive East just off Doctors Lake Drive. She leaves behind a 4-year-old daughter.
Investigators said the crossing guard arms were lowered and the warning lights were activated when Spillers drove her Nissan Murano across the tracks. Spillers' SUV was hit by an Amtrak train, and she was thrown from the vehicle. Troopers said she wasn't wearing a seat beat.
Troopers said the vehicle was pushed off the tracks and into a piece of equipment attached to the crossing.
The Clay County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday released 911 calls that were made by witnesses to the tragic crash. Following is the transcript of one of those calls:
Dispatcher: Clay County 911. What's the address of emergency?
Caller: Yeah, we got a train that hit somebody over here.
Dispatcher: All right. Where at?
Caller: We're in Doctors Lake Drive in the Hollycrest neighborhood, Shenandoah Drive but the (police) just pulled up.
Dispatcher: OK, you're telling me that it hit a car?
Caller: It hit a car, a minivan. We haven't found the victim yet, so you better send an ambulance for sure.
Amtrak officials said the train was the No. 98 Silver Meteor service running from Miami to New York and there were 256 passengers and 13 crew members on board. No injuries were reported on the train.
Shenandoah Drive remained closed Tuesday at Doctors Lake Drive. Spillers lived less than a mile away from the crash site. Flowers were laid outside her home on Tuesday.
Her loved ones were heartbroken after hearing about what happened. Her friends said Spillers always wore her seat belt, and they said they don't believe that Spillers would have tried to go around the train's crossing arms.
"I didn't want to believe it. I thought somebody was lying to me. I thought it couldn't be her," said Casey Graves, Spillers' best friend. "I was in total disbelief that she could be gone."
Spillers leaves behind a 4-year-old daughter, Annabella.
"She's absolutely the love of Eryn's life, her whole heart and soul," Graves said of Annabella. "And her mom was everything to her. And I'm scared how that's going to be."
Janice Aultman, a family friend, said she was like a second mother to Spillers. She said that the two were talking over the weekend about tragedies that Aultman's family had suffered.
Aultman said Spillers told her she was glad Aultman could be so positive, considering what she had endured.
"We had become an inspiration to her," Aultman said. "Little did we know that she was going to become part of the tragedy that we live."
Family friends said Spillers had a new job and a new car and was working on being physically fit so she could be in shape to take care of her daughter for many years. Spillers worked at a local pool company and previously worked in catering services at the Jacksonville Zoo.
"Smiling. She was always, always smiling," Graves said. "She could light up a room."
Those who loved Spillers are working to keep her memory alive.
"I don't really know what we're all going to do without her," Graves said.
The family has created the Eryn Spillers Memorial Fund on GoFundMe and is asking for funds to cover Spillers' funeral and to begin a trust fund for Annabella, who will now be living with her grandparents.
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