FHP: 4 sisters killed in Brevard County I-95 crash
Child thrown over wall in crash that injured 8, killed 4
TITUSVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Highway Patrol said Tuesday a fourth sister has died after being injured in a Monday evening crash on Interstate 95 in Brevard County.
The FHP said the four sisters were not wearing seat belts when their mother lost control of her Dodge Durango after a tire blowout.
The driver was identified as 34-year-old Latorya Brown, who was wearing a seat belt and suffered minor injuries in the crash. News 6 partner Florida Today reports Brown has been released from the hospital.
Eleven people were in the Dodge Durango at the time of the crash, the FHP said. Officials said eight people were sent to area hospitals, but their conditions were not known.
Troopers said one of the victims at the hospital is a child who was thrown over a 20-foot high wall and was found after officers heard the child crying. The child was last listed in stable condition.
"God was watching over him. That's for sure," neighbor Daniel Gumieny, who lives on Alexander Drive in Titusville, told News 6.
The neighborhood is on the other side of the barrier wall where troopers say the crash happened.
"We determined that obviously the child was not on this side of the interstate, and to our surprise, it was actually on the other side of the barrier wall," Steven Montiero, a Florida Highway Patrol representative, said. (The child) was ejected on that side. We located the child, (who) was alive and transported."
The child was last listed in stable condition.
The FHP said the girls who died were Jasmine Cruze, Nadia Cruz, Niashia Cruz and Amunya Cruz.
"This is a mass casualty scene,” Montiero said. "We're talking 11 people inside of an SUV. I don't know any SUV that fits 11 people inside of it, and we're going to begin to figure this out."
The owner of a Dodge dealership in Titusville told News 6 Tuesday he finds it "nearly impossible" that 11 people fit in the Durango.
He said most 2006 models have just two rows of seats.
"I was pretty devastated because the children had been a part of our ministry for so long," Pastor Mark LoGiudice said.
LoGiudice said he was at the hospital all morning praying with the Cruz family after the fourth sister, Nadia, passed away. He told News 6 it's been hard on their mother. The family was coming back from the beach on Memorial Day and, coincidentally, Brown's 34th birthday.
"They were just having a good time like anybody would on a Memorial Day, and something went wrong with the car," LoGiudice said.
The mother of five is now left with her youngest daughter. The FHP said a tire blew out in their Dodge Durango, causing the SUV to flip several times, crashing into the I-95 barrier wall and ejecting passengers, including a 3-year-old boy who was thrown over the barrier wall. That toddler received a broken leg.
"The only thing I could keep telling her, trying to refocus her on, was that her one daughter was still here. I was trying to get her to realize that God did protect her one daughter," LoGiudice said.
Dozens of memorials for the girls have already been popping up on Facebook, remembering Nadia, Jazmine, Niashia and Amunya -- all between the ages of 10 and 15.
LoGiudice told News 6 he just saw two of the sisters Sunday at a church event.
"We had a movie day. We had popsicles and popcorn and we had a lot of fun," LoGuidice said. "You know, that was it. That was the last time I saw her."
The church is helping raise money for the family and their funeral arrangements. A vigil will be coming up in the next weeks.
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