Four members of a Massachusetts family – including a 5-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy – have been killed when their van was rear-ended by a pickup truck near Walt Disney World in Florida, according to reports.
The family of eight from Whitman was traveling just south of Disney World near Celebration when the rental van was slammed by the truck at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, sending it onto its side and into two other vehicles, NBC Boston reported.
Scarlett Smith, 5, her mom Julie Smith, 41, and the girl’s grandmother Josephine Fay, 76, were killed at the scene, police said. Jackson Smith, 11, succumbed to his injuries at a hospital on Wednesday.
The 5-year-old’s twin Skyler, 10-year-old sibling Shalie, their dad Shane, 43, and their grandfather William Faye, 76, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
“We believe everybody was belted, but the father who was driving,” Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Kim Montes said, according to clickorlando.com.
“I think everybody is just in shock any time kids are involved,” she said. “The troopers that called me and told me about it were very upset because kids were involved.”
Charges were pending against the pickup truck’s driver, Lucas Dos Reis Laurindo, 26, of Kissimmee, police said, adding that he did not seem to be impaired and voluntarily provided a blood sample, clickorlando.com reported.
On Wednesday night, residents in the tragic family’s neighborhood in Whitman lighted candles in memory of the victims.
“It’s very hard to comprehend. Our hearts are absolutely broken,” Sheila Howard told WCVB. “It’s just a sad thing to think about. I had just seen the kids, you know, and you have that vision of them playing in the yard.”
The twins’ preschool teacher told the news outlet that the girls had been eagerly anticipating their trip to Florida.
“The girls were very excited about going. They couldn’t wait,” Darlene Staples told WCVB. “They were a wonderful family. They did a lot of trips together.
“Our hearts are absolutely broken. We’re just trying to get through (the day).”
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