Eight passengers died and 10 were injured after leaving a Fort Myers church in a Dodge Ram Wagon B3500 Maxi late Monday night on April 1, 2015. The over-filled independently-driven van was transporting members of the Fort Pierce Independent Haitian Assembly of God back from their sister church, Eglise De Dieu La Jerusalem Celeste, after a Palm Sunday celebration.
Florida Highway Patrol said it happened at the intersection of SR 78 and US 27 in Moore Haven shortly before 12:30 a.m. As the van headed home on S.R. 78, their driver drove through a stop sign at an unlit T-intersection, careened across four lanes of U.S. 27 and nosedived into the shallow water just after midnight.
Glades County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy, Duane Pottorff said, “It was a sad evening. They didn’t see that stop sign. They shot right through it.” An investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of the crash, said Lieutenant Greg Bueno, a Highway Patrol spokesman.
One four-year-old boy was injured and released from the hospital. He was not wearing a seat belt. It hasn’t been determined whether or not the others were wearing seatbelts. Police officer at the scene said, “We have an idea, somewhat, but we’re not releasing that until we get a better assessment of the vehicle because we had to remove seats, nor has the van been thoroughly evaluated for mechanical troubles.” Standard seating capacity for the 2000 Dodge is 15. The van held 18 people. The full investigation could take up to 60 days.
One injured party said that the driver didn’t notice a curve in the road and couldn’t stop in time. Another survivor from the crash said the van’s brakes seemed to fail as they were negotiating a curve and they crashed straight into a canal. The survivor said he was sitting in the rear of the van and was thrown by the crash up to the passenger side door, which he was able to open and escape. The survivor said several people were stuck inside the van because of their seatbelts.
The Fort Myers sister church on Sunset Place in Fort Myers was locked and empty on Monday and calls to its pastor, Mathieu Clerveau, were not immediately returned. Original article can be found on Fox News.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in south Florida, contact the Wolf & Pravato law firm. While you need to act quickly, it’s also important to exercise great care in choosing an auto accident lawyer. You’ll want to ask how they plan to approach your car accident claim; how they calculate the compensation needed to address all injuries from car accidents – not just those that are readily apparent to the eye, such as broken bones; and if they will delve into issues of “second collision claims” that look at whether manufacturer defect played a role in the collision.