Published: Sat, January 05, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

6 dead in fiery crash on I-75 north of Gainesville

6 dead in fiery crash on I-75 north of Gainesville

Five of the children, ranging from 9 to 14 years old - from a Pentecostal church in Marksville, Louisiana - and the two truck drivers died.

The children ranged in age from 8 to teenagers, he said. Officials said they aren't sure yet what caused one of the trucks and passenger vehicle to collide as they headed north on the interstate, but FHP Lt. Patrick Riordan said that's what started the incident. "We extend heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones impacted by this tragic accident".

Yesterday, January 3, 2019, a van load of people from our United Pentecostal Church in Marksville, Louisiana (pastor Eric Descant) were on their way to Orlando, Florida.For some unknown reason, a large tractor-trailer truck crossed the median of I-75 near Gainesville, Florida and crashed into the church van.

Bryan Ross, affiliated with Avoyelles House of Mercy, said that the group, which included the pastor's wife, had set off from Marksville on Thursday morning. The volunteer was quoted on the Facebook page of U.S. Sen.

In the same Facebook post, Cox said that the Descants' granddaughter was among those killed.

As many as eight others were hurt, the lieutenant said.

The Pentecostals of Gainesville created a fundraiser to help cover travel and housing expenses for the families of victims heading to Florida.

The highway patrol says a truck driven by Steve Holland, 59, of West Palm Beach, was traveling north in the far-right lane when his truck suddenly veered left and collided with a auto driven by Robyn Rattray, 41, of Gainesville. The van was traveling on Interstate 75 near Gainesville when it got caught in a pileup involving two 18-wheelers.

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A semi-truck that was traveling north had struck a vehicle and crossed over with it into the southbound lanes - slamming into the van and another semi.

A fifth vehicle drove through the crash debris, possibly striking some vehicle occupants who had been ejected upon impact, Riordan said.

Authorities will continue investigating how the crash unfolded, and part of that investigation will look into the guardrail that failed to stop the initial big rig and sedan from crossing into the neighbouring lane. The fire was so intense that authorities said it damaged parts of the road.

Reports also suggest that five of the seven victims who died were in the van.

This image taken from a Florida 511 traffic camera shows the scene where officials say six people have died.

Authorities are now attempting to notify next of kin of the deaths. Riordan said FHP is still following its normal protocols.

"It's unbelievable", Avoyelles House of Mercy member Maxine Doughty told the The Gainseville Sun on Friday from the church's town in Louisiana.

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