Seven people died Thursday in a fiery crash on I-75 in Florida. Five of the victims were children on their way to Walt Disney World.
The Florida Highway Patrol said Friday that the children were 14-year-olds Joel Cloud and Jeremiah Warren, 13-year-old Cara Descant, 10-year-old Briena Descant, and 9-year-old Cierra Bordelan.
All were from Marksville, Louisiana, and were in a Pentecostal church van headed to the theme park when the accident happened Thursday afternoon outside Gainesville.
Two drivers of tractor-trailers were also killed in the crash. Authorities have identified them as 49-year-old Douglas Bolkema of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and 59-year-old Steve Holland of West Palm Beach.
Authorities say the initial accident involved a tractor-trailer and vehicle traveling in the northbound lane of Interstate 75 near Gainesville.
Once they made contact, they crashed through a guardrail in the median and veered into the southbound lane causing a second crash involving another semi and two other vehicles.
Authorities say an ensuing fire was fed by some 50-gallons of diesel fuel that spilled onto the highway.
In addition to the seven people killed at least six others were injured — some critically.
“This is a tragic, tragic accident. My heart breaks for all the people involved and on behalf of FDOT our condolences to the families and to the victims and the folks that survived this crash, said Troy Roberts with the Florida Dept. of Transportation. “This is just an awful, awful situation.”
Walt Disney World officials are expressing their sympathies to the families of the seven victims of a fiery Florida highway crash, including the children headed to the park.
Spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler said Friday that “there are no words to convey the sorrow we feel for those involved.”