ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Two women, a 5-year-old girl, and an 11-year-old boy are dead after a four-vehicle crash near Walt Disney World, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
FHP Lt. Kim Montes said the crash happened at 5:30 p.m. on southbound State Road 429 near Sinclair Road in Osceola County.
The FHP said all four vehicles were southbound on S.R. 429 when a pickup truck driven by Lucas Dos Reis Laurindo, 26, of Kissimmee, rear-ended a Toyota van, which had slowed for traffic, causing it to overturn.
The van was carrying a family of eight from Massachusetts, according to the FHP. Julie Smith, 41; Scarlett Smith, 5; and Josephine Fay, 76, died in the crash, according to the FHP.
Jackson Smith, 11, was taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital in critical condition, troopers said. Smith died at the hospital on Wednesday afternoon, according to FHP.
“We believe everybody was belted, but the father who was driving,” Lt. Montes said.
The others in the van suffered minor injuries and were taken to area hospitals, an FHP report stated.
DEADLY CRASH NEAR DISNEY Two adults and a child are confirmed dead, while another child is fighting for its life.Posted by News 6 WKMG / ClickOrlando on Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Lt. Montes said FHP troopers, victim advocates, social workers, and nurses are surrounding the surviving members of the family at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
“This family is far away from home,” Lt. Montes said. “We are trying to do as much as we can to support them, but it’s beyond their comprehension.”
Back at their hometown of Whitman, Massachusetts, a daycare worker who cared for the 5-year old twins spoke to media.
"It's unimaginable," she said. "They are a beautiful family. Our hearts are broken."
The Principal of the Whitman-Hanson Regional School District where the kids attended also spoke in a news conference in Massachusetts and said though they are in the middle of a week-long break, they are mobilizing grief counselors at the schools where the students attended.
“It’s awful. It really is,” Jeffrey Szymaniak said. “We go hour by hour, day by day as a district but I think the family should be in our thoughts and prayers and as a community, we mourn for them and we mourn for everyone associated with this tragedy in Florida.”
The others in the van, including the father, grandfather, a 10-year old girl and Scarlett Smith’s 5-year old twin, suffered minor injuries and were taken to area hospitals, an FHP report stated.
As for the driver, Lucas Dos Reis Laurindo, 26, trooper say he was cooperative, didn’t seem impaired and voluntarily gave a blood sample. However, troopers say charges against him are pending.
Check back for updates on this developing story.