A Florida van crash carrying 18 people on U.S. 27 in southwest Florida happened early Monday morning, killing eight people and injuring 10. Florida Highway Patrol say a church van from Fort Pierce ran a stop sign, went across all lanes of traffic, and landed in a canal.
Fox News reports that the crash occurred around 12:30 a.m. in Glades County, which is east of Lake Okeechobee. Lt. Gregory S. Bueno says the driver and seven passengers were killed. He adds that fog wasn’t a factor in the crash. Glades County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy, Duane Pottorff, says the van driver didn’t see the stop sign and “shot right through it.”
The van was returning home from a weekend convention held at the Eglise De Dieu La Jerusalem Celeste Church in Fort Myers. They were on their way back to the Independent Haitian Assembly of God in Fort Pierce, friends and relatives of passengers report.
WPTV Channel 5 reports that the van had gone down an 8 to 10-foot embankment after it lost control. It then landed in shallow water surrounded by tall weeds and grass.
Four male and three female passengers were killed along with the male driver, troopers confirmed. Their identities aren’t being released until their families have been notified.
Identities of those injured have been released. One of them is a 4-year-old girl, who reportedly wasn’t in a car seat.
Those injured in the Florida van crash who are in critical condition are: Jose Zimero, 26; Clodette Fleurvil, 44; Innoncent Roseme, 89; Esperant Lexine, 57; all from Fort Pierce.
The injured in serious condition are: Jean Rafael, 73; Macaty Jean Jacques, 53; Marilia Dieudonne, 65; Faeyana Desirus, 4; all from Fort Pierce.
Passengers with minor injuries suffered are: Nozaire Nore, 48; Nicholas Alexis, 57; also from Fort Pierce.
According to the report, the van that crashed was designed to seat 16 people and 18 passengers were inside it.
“We will determine how many seats were inside the van, and how many can be safely seated appropriately,” Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Greg Bueno tells My Fox Tampa Bay. “That’s part of the investigation. We can say that there were 18 people inside the van at the time of the crash.”
It’s unknown at this time if the driver had a Class C driver’s license. Under Florida law, a Class C driver’s license is required to operate a vehicle that carries 16 or more people, including the driver. An investigation into the Florida van crash continues.
[Photo Credit:WPTV Channel 5 screenshot]