State authorities say the crash on Interstate 75 South involved two tractor-trailers, a passenger van and a auto.
Five Louisiana children travelling to Disney World were among the seven people who died in Florida in a fiery crash involving two tractor-trailer trucks travelling in opposite directions, law enforcement officials and local media said on Friday. Diesel fuel leaked and the mass erupted into a fireball.
He said a fifth vehicle came through and either struck people who had been thrown from the wreckage or debris.
Cell phone video from a driver passing the crash site shows the huge plume of smoke filling the air after two tractor-trailers and a passenger van caught on fire. At least eight other people involved in the pileups were injured, some seriously.
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. If an accident occurred with a significant amount of casualties and presented a substantial danger to the traveling public if not responded to immediately, an investigation may be launched. In a Facebook post, Kevin Cox of the Louisiana district of the United Pentecostal Church International said the van was carrying members of its Marksville, La., congregation. Cox also said church pastor Eric Descant's 50-year-old wife, Karen, was injured and his granddaughter killed.
"We are obviously concerned with the number of traffic accidents and fatalities we see on I-75". It is a busy stretch of a highway that connects Florida to the rest of the South, Indiana, Ohio, and MI.
After the impact, both vehicles barreled through the guardrail, across the median and into the southbound lanes, striking the van carrying the kids.
Vinnie DeVita told WKMG-TV he was driving south and narrowly avoided the crash.
"I would say just take it one day at a time", church member Hannah Poole said.
"Then all of a sudden I heard a big boom", she told ABC News, "and then tons of black smoke".
"There are no words to convey the sorrow we feel for those involved", she said, News4Jax reported. 'The heat, it was insane'.
A 2006 Chevrolet pickup truck then struck at least one person who had been ejected from the van.
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.
It's unclear whether the victims were killed in the wreck or whether they burned in the fire, which would make identification more hard, he said.