OCALA, Fla. -

Three children -- ages 2, 5 and 7 -- were critically injured late Sunday in a four-vehicle crash in Marion County involving a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, officials said.

[PHOTOS:  3 kids hurt in 4-vehicle crash in Marion County]

The children were airlifted to UF Health Shands after the crash, which occurred around 9:30 p.m. on Interstate 75 at mile marker 345 near Ocala.

According to the FHP, 20-year-old Trooper Raul J. Umana was traveling northbound in a marked cruiser and attempted to make a U-turn in the median of the highway.  His cruiser, however, struck a guardrail and was redirected into southbound lanes of I-75, the FHP said.

A Nissan Altima driven by 28-year-old Christeia T. Jones, of Orlando, struck the FHP cruiser and two other vehicles before catching fire, said officials, who added that Jones suffered serious injuries.  She was later listed in good condition, according to the hospital.

Three children in the Altima, Logan Grant, 2; Lanard Maybin, 5; and Denard Maybin Jr., 7; were all critically injured and airlifted to UF Health Shands, said the FHP, which stated that the Maybins were not wearing seat belts.

The drivers of the other vehicles -- a Mercedes and a tractor-trailer -- suffered minor injuries and were taken to hospitals, the FHP said.

Southbound lanes of I-75 were closed for about six hours.

The crash remains under investigation.

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