"(It is) one of the most heart-wrenching, sad events, as a law enforcement officer, that you can ever witness," Judd said.
Yazmin, a fifth-grader at Davenport School of the Arts, was home with her 9-year-old brother, who was napping when Yazmin decided to walk to a nearby restaurant for snacks, an action that Judd described as “such a wholesome thing to do.” The children’s mother was on her way home from work.
The girl had to cross the railroad tracks to get to her destination.
“She got two drinks, I’m presuming one for her and one for her younger brother,” Judd said. “She got some chips, some chewing gum, some snacks, and was walking back to her house.”
Investigators had not yet evaluated the earbuds Yazmin was using, but Judd pointed out that if they were the noise-canceling type, they likely played a large role in the girl’s death.
"If you have noise-canceling earbuds, plus you have your favorite music in your ears, the end result is what, apparently, at this point in the investigation, we saw," Judd said. "She never heard the train."
Judd said his investigators, along with Amtrak’s own investigative team, are still probing the crash, but that nothing out of the ordinary had been found thus far. It was not immediately clear if the train, which was made up of two engines and 12 passenger cars, had any passengers on board when the crash occurred.
The train was traveling within the 70 mile-per-hour speed limit and all indications were that the conductor acted appropriately when he spotted the girl crossing the tracks, Judd said.
“It’s just one of those days at work that’s not fun,” he said somberly.
Yazmin's death is the second tragedy to strike the Polk County Public Schools over the holiday break. Krista Clayton, a teacher at Jewett School of the Arts, was one of five people killed in a plane crash in Bartow, Florida, on Christmas Eve.
Clayton, 32, was a friend of the four family members killed in the plane crash, including the pilot, John Shannon, 70, a Lakeland attorney. Also killed in the crash were Shannon’s daughters, Olivia Shannon, a 24-year-old Southeastern University student; and Victoria Shannon-Worthington, 26, a Baltimore school teacher.
Shannon-Worthington’s husband, Peter Worthington Jr., a 27-year-old University of Maryland law student, was the fifth person killed in the plane crash, which took place shortly after John Shannon piloted his twin-engine Cessna from the Bartow Municipal Airport. The Worthingtons were married this past summer.
The group was traveling to Key West when the plane crashed upon takeoff, officials said.