Seven people – five children and two truck drivers were killed in a fiery accident near Gainesville in Florida.
According to a Times report, the children were travelling to Disneyland with their church group when the accident with two 18-wheelers occurred. The collision happened on Interstate 75.
Several news outlets including the WFLA, reported that the children have been identified as Joel Cloud (14), Jeremiah Warren (14), Cara Descant (13), Briena Descant (10) and Cierra Bordelan (9). The surviving children are still hospitalized.
According to the highway patrol, Steve Holland (59) was driving the truck which was travelling north in the far-right lane and it suddenly collided with a car driven by Robyn Rattray (41) from Gainesville. Both vehicles spun out of control and Holland’s truck collided with the southbound church van causing it to flip several times.
Highway Patrol Lt. Patrick Riordan speaking to reporters said that, “It’s a heartbreaking event”.
The victims died because of a blaze caused after diesel was spilt on the road due to the collision. Douglas Bolkema (49) from Albuquerque, New Mexico and Holland were also killed.
Eyewitness Vinnie DeVita stated “If I had stepped on the brake when I heard the noise, undoubtedly, I would have been in that accident. And then within probably 15 to 20 seconds of it all, it exploded. I mean, just a ball of flames.”
At least eight people also sustained injuries and were taken to the hospital including a pregnant woman who is now in stable condition.
The crash is said to be the worst accident on that highway since the January 2012 chain-reaction crash, when 11 persons died.
Cameras, sensors and electronic signs have been installed on the highway as a result of that crash.