An 8-year-old girl was killed by a train after her mother told her to crawl underneath to get to a bus stop on time, Fresno police said.
Joy Frances Collins, 44, was charged with felony child neglect Tuesday after the death of her daughter, Joy Anna Harris, the previous day, the Fresno Bee reported.
A freight train had slowed down and then stopped, Chief Jerry Dyer said, according to the paper. So Collins told her daughter and 9-year-old son to crawl under it so they wouldn't miss a bus taking them home, he added, the Bee reported.
The boy crossed through first, but Dyer noted to the paper that his sister was reluctant to follow. Collins reportedly shouted, "Hurry up," the Bee said.
The train began moving as Joy Anna tried to cross, and she became trapped and was pulled south about 500 feet as Collins ran behind in desperation, the paper said. Collins reached her daughter and pulled her from the freight, but she was dead of traumatic injuries just before 6 p.m., the Bee reported.
Collins was booked into jail Monday night, KSEE-TV reported, adding that Dyer said Collins had previous contacts with Child Protective Services. The chief added that she ordered her children to endanger themselves in a similar fashion at least seven times previously, the Bee reported.
Dyer said Collins is suffering greatly from her loss but "the law is the law," KSEE said.
What did witnesses say?
James Whitehead and Christy Miller have been living in a home near the tracks for about two years, a separate Bee article noted, and they heard screaming and shouting as the tragic incident unfolded.
"There's a kid on the tracks!" Miller told the paper she shouted to Whitehead, who knew the train was stopped. He then jumped over a six-foot fence that separates the couples' yard from the tracks and began sprinting, the Bee said.
"Where's the kid! Where's the kid!" he recalled saying to himself as he ran along the tracks and moving train, the paper said. Whitehead added to the Bee that he thought, "Too late" — and saw Joy Anna's tiny body.
The next morning the couple stood in their backyard as Miller wiped away tears. "I'm so depressed," she told the paper. "I don't know what to do."
"We've seen five or six people die on the tracks here, but never a kid," Whitehead added to the Bee.
The couple added to the paper that a fence should be placed between the tracks and nearby homes and apartments. One young girl told the Bee, "Every day, I see kids playing on the tracks. I tell them to get off."
(H/T: Blue Lives Matter)