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Girl, 8, dies after crawling under the freight train of mother in the direction of the police says

Joy Francis Collins, 44, was taken into custody Monday on suspicion of child neglect likely to cause great bodily injury or death, the police say.
(Fresno Police Department )

A California mother accused of forcing her 8-year-old daughter to crawl under a stationary freight train — that ultimately killed the child-so the family could a bus on the other side of the tracks has been arrested, authorities said.

Fresno police took Joy Francis Collins, 44, in custody Monday on suspicion of child neglect likely to cause great bodily injury or death, police chief Jerry Dyer said in a press conference.

The girl, Joyanna Harris, died after crawling under the Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight car after her mother told the girl and her 9-year-old brother to crawl under the family wouldn’t miss to take a bus home, Dyer said.

“A mother and her daughter in a position where they could be seriously injured or killed, and that is where we have to look at,” he said. “We have a responsibility to make that person accountable.”

“A mother and her daughter in a position where they could be seriously injured or killed, and that is where we have to look at. We have a responsibility to make that person accountable.”

— Chief Jerry Dyer, Fresno police

The family was near the tracks just before 6 pm, when the one-mile-long train stopped for about 12 seconds and blocked the road to a nearby bus stop. Collins told the children to quickly, authorities said.

The boy crawled under a truck with success, while Joy Anna was reluctant, Dyer said Tuesday.

Collins cried “Hurry!,” he said.

“On being encouraged by the mother to cross the rail, they too her away from under the rail car and tried to be on the other side,” Dyer said.

If the girl was trying to cross, the train lurched forward and she was trapped. Collins chased after her and pulled her from the train after it had pulled the 500 metres, police said.

She died at the place of her injuries. The police said Collins had directed her children to endanger themselves in the same way.

James Whitehead lived just a few feet from the tracks and saw Harris being pulled by the train, the Fresno Bee reported. He climbed over a six-foot fence between the yard of the tracks and gave chase.

“Where is the boy? Where is the boy?” said he to himself, according to the paper. “We have seen that five or six people die on the tracks here, but never a child.”

Dyer said that while the police arrested Collins, he understands that they have to suffer from the loss of her daughter.

“We know that she is in pain,” he said. “I hope that people understand that there is a balance that we must achieve in the enforcement of the law. No one last night wanted to arrest the mother for this crime, but the law is the law.”

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