DeLAND, Fla. – A 73-year-old man and an 11-year-old boy were killed and another man was critically injured late Thursday in a fiery two-vehicle crash in Volusia County, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Joel Baker and the boy, who has not yet been identified by authorities, died in the crash, which was reported at 9:48 p.m. at State Road 15A and Cascades Park Boulevard in DeLand.
Laura Baker Wells said her father and her son, Charles "Alex" Wells, died in the crash.
"He was autistic and a beautiful, loving child," she said.
Baker was a reserve deputy in Volusia County from 1978 to 2005 and a volunteer firefighter support lieutenant.
"Please say a prayer for the family today and let them see the entire VCSO family is here for them in their time of need. As we’re seeing all too often, these tragedies can touch anyone," Sheriff Mike Chitwood said.
"It is with sadness and regret that we inform you of the loss of one of our own. Volunteer support Lieutenant Joel Baker and his grandson were tragically killed in a crash (Thursday) night near ISB/Spring Garden in DeLand," the Volusia County Professional Firefighters Association posted on Facebook.
"He always had a happy smile and happy outlook always encouraged people wherever he went and was just a loving supportive person that would always take the time and be in the moment," Chief Jeff Smith said about Baker.
The FHP said Baker and the boy were in a 2009 Chevrolet pickup truck that was struck by a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro.
Troopers said the Camaro was traveling north on S.R. 15A at a high rate of speed when the pickup, which was headed west on Cascades Park Boulevard, entered the car's path.
For Smith, responding to a call for one of your own is not easy for the close group of firefighters who knew and respected Baker.
"When we have to respond to one of our own and to find somebody like that and we don't know where we responded to and for the crews that were out there, that was his home base these were the station he spent the most time at so they all knew him. It affected our folks did the best that they could and carried out the mission," Smith said.
The Camaro struck the left side of the pickup, which overturned and erupted in flames, the FHP said. The Camaro also caught fire, troopers said.
Baker and the boy in the pickup were pronounced dead at the scene, the FHP said. Baker was not wearing a seat belt, troopers said.
The driver of the Camaro, who was wearing a seat belt, was taken to Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach in critical condition, troopers said. His name has not been released.
The FHP said charges are pending. It's not known if alcohol played a role in the crash, the FHP said.
Northbound lanes of Spring Garden Avenue were closed in the area.
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