Mother charged with 8-year-old daughter’s death after instructing her to crawl under a train

FRESNO, CA – Joy Frances Collins, a California mother, has been sentenced to six years in prison following the tragic death of her eight-year-old daughter, Joyanna Harris, in December 2018. Collins was found guilty of child abuse and endangerment after she instructed her children to crawl under an idling cargo train to make it in time for a bus on the other side of the tracks.

Unfortunately, when the train began to move, young Joyanna was dragged almost 100 yards along the rail crossing at North Diana Street and Belmont Avenue in Fresno. Her brother, aged nine, survived the dreadful incident but sustained injuries.

Fresno Police Department Detective Paul Hill testified at Collins’ October court hearing that she did not want to miss the bus and felt it was safe enough to cross beneath the train. Jason Wilson, a paramedic and ICU nurse, described Joyanna’s severe and fatal injuries.

Photos of the injured little girl presented to the jury in court were so disturbing that Collins had to leave the courtroom. Evidence indicated that the impact came from the train’s second car, and there was noticeable blood on it.

Upon her guilty verdict, Collins was transferred to Valley State Prison in Chowchilla to serve her sentence. Additionally, she was mandated to pay a $1,200 fine. Currently, Collins’ son is living with his grandparents.