Authorities identify five Louisiana children killed in fiery Florida crash
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Seven people, including five children, were killed in a crash involving a van transporting members of a Louisiana church through Florida Thursday.
The crash was reported Thursday afternoon on Interstate 75 southbound near Gainesville. The Florida Highway Patrol said two tractor-trailers, a passenger van, and a mid-sized sedan were involved in the crash.
In a news conference Friday morning, the Florida Highway Patrol said that five children from Avoyelles Parish were among the seven killed in the crash, ABC reports. Two men driving two semi trucks involved in the crash also died.
Florida officials have identified the children as 10-year-old Brieana Descant, 9-year-old Cierra Bordelan, 14-year-old Joel Cloud, 14-year-old Jeremiah Warren and 13-year-old Cara Descant. The two truck drivers killed were identified as 49-year-old Douglas Bolkema and 59-year-old Steve Holland.
Investigators said a tractor-trailer and a passenger vehicle collided while traveling on I-75. The vehicles then crashed through a guardrail and into the southbound lanes hitting the church van and another tractor-trailer.
The Avoyelles House of Mercy in Marksville confirmed that members of their church were involved in the crash. The church's pastor later released a statement online saying one of the people who survived the crash was a pregnant woman. The church's initial statement said the woman gave birth after the accident, but it later backpedaled that portion of the statement, saying the baby was still safe inside the mother's womb.
A traffic homicide investigation is ongoing.
Reports say the group was in Florida for a Disney trip.