ORANGE PARK, Fla. – The Florida Highway Patrol has identified the woman who was killed when the SUV she was driving was struck by an Amtrak train at a crossing in Doctors Lake. Investigators said Eryn Spillers, 34, lived near the crash scene.
The crash happened about 4:45 p.m. Monday at a train crossing on Shenandoah Drive East, just off Doctors Lake Drive.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Spillers was driving her silver Nissan Murano westbound on Shenandoah Drive at the railroad crossing. After the crossing guard arms had lowered and the warning lights activated, Spillers drove her Nissan across the tracks anyway. Her Nissan was hit by the train, and she died at the scene.
Spillers' vehicle was then pushed off the tracks and into a piece of equipment attached to the crossing, and she was thrown from her vehicle.
Troopers said the train stopped immediately after striking Spillers' Nissan. Spillers was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
Troopers said Spillers had a daughter, who is now in the custody of her grandmother.
Officials said 256 passengers and 13 crew members were on board the train, and no injuries were reported.
Officials also made it a point to say that the crossing guard arms were working fine at the time of the accident.
FHP told News4Jax the mechanism that controls the train signals through that area was damaged in the crash. When we were briefed at 7:25 p.m., troopers said it would take at least two more hours to fix that mechanism and reopen the road.
After family members were notified, News4Jax spoke with neighbors who feel this intersection is dangerous.
"Sometimes, the arms don't come down, and I always stop and look, and a lot of times, they'll go down and they'll go back up and down and up and down like they're stuck. And I just said not long ago, 'My gosh, something bad is going to happen,'" Martha Crain said.
Just four months ago, a tractor-trailer carrying a $300,000 sports car got stuck on the same tracks, and though the two incidents are different and the arms were down, neighbors are hoping investigators look into the design of the tracks.
David Brogar, also a resident nearby for 40 years, said drivers can't really see the crossing arms or hear a train because of a curve in the track.
"You can go down to the next crossing, and you can't see this crossing. There's a slight bend in the track. So if the arms are down, you can see them, you'll stop but a lot of times, you can't hear the trains coming just because of the curve," said Broger.
Amtrak officials said the train was the #98 Silver Meteor service running from Miami to New York.
The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the death. Doctors Lake Drive remains open, but Shenandoah was blocked.
CSX is currently investigating the crash.