FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A woman was arrested on felony child neglect charges after her 8-year-old daughter was killed while crawling under a train in California so the family wouldn’t miss a bus home, authorities said.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Tuesday that Joy Collins, 44, on Monday urged her daughter and her 9-year-old son to crawl under the idling train. The boy made it but the girl was reluctant to get under the freight train.
When she did, the train lurched and trapped her under its wheels, dragging and killing her as Collins ran behind in desperation. Collins reached her daughter and pulled her from under the train, but she was dead of traumatic injuries, Dyer said at a news conference, the Fresno Bee reported .
Detectives determined that Collins was negligent, based on witness statements, the darkness of the area at the time, and the reluctance of the child to follow her mother’s orders, he said.
Collins ordered her children to crawl under the train at least seven times before, Dyer said.
It was not immediately known if Collins has an attorney, said Fresno police spokesman Lt. Mark Hudson.
James Whitehead and Christy Miller live in a home near the tracks. Miller said she heard what sounded like a child on Monday night. Then, both said they heard screams and shouting. Whitehead said he vaulted a fence and ran toward the train.
“Too late,” he thought, as he reached Belmont.
The couple stood in their backyard Tuesday; Miller repeatedly rubbing tears from her eyes.
“We’ve seen five or six people die on the tracks here, but never a kid,” Whitehead said.