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Derailed train car lands in home

Brenda Franklin had been sleeping in her living room, where the train crashed, until an hour and a half before it happened.

[Times photo: Janel Schroeder-Norton]
One derailed car from a CSX train slammed into the living room of Brenda Franklin's home at 20834 Hines Road and another ran into her Crown Victoria. She was asleep in her bedroom, but was not injured.

By RYAN DAVIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 6, 2001


LACOOCHEE -- Brenda Franklin was asleep in the bedroom of her mobile home about 5:30 a.m. Saturday when her bed shook and she heard a terrible noise.

She thought a car had crashed into her living room.

It wasn't a car.

It was a train.

"She said it sounded like a tornado or something," said Judy Whitacre, a neighbor who has been friends with Franklin, 53, since childhood.

Franklin was too shaken up after the accident to comment.

As a CSX train was backing up to dump corn into a nearby storage bin, five of its cars derailed, rescue officials said. One slammed into Franklin's home at 20834 Hines Road. Another plowed into her Crown Victoria, which was parked in the yard.

"We haven't even been able to see the car because it's crushed between the train and house," Whitacre said.

Much to the disbelief of neighbors and rescue workers, Franklin, who has lived in the home for more than 15 years, was not injured.

"If it hadn't been for this big old live oak tree where the (train) car came to rest, it would have rolled over and squashed her," said Chief Bill Duffy of the Tri-County Volunteer Fire Department. "The tree saved her life."

Rescue workers pulled Franklin from her home, Whitacre said, because the steps to the home were destroyed in the accident.

Franklin had been sleeping on a reclining chair in her living room, where the train crashed, until about 4 a.m., when she moved to her bed, Whitacre said.

The train knocked one side of the home nearly four feet off its foundation, Duffy said.

"When they backed up, they went too far," he said. "It just went into her house."

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