Truck driver in fatal I-75 crash had several tickets

Church van involved in crash was headed to Disney World

By AP Author, ClickOrlando.com staff

ORLANDO, Fla. - Here's the latest on a fiery crash that left seven people dead on Interstate 75 in Central Florida.

  • Five of seven victims were children headed to Disney World
  • Two big rig drivers killed in crash
  • Pregnant victim doing 'OK' after fiery crash on I-75, baby not delivered
  • Victims' names released

7:40 p.m.

The truck driver at the center of a fiery Florida crash that killed him, another trucker and five children received several traffic tickets over the years.

Court records show 59-year-old Steve Holland of West Palm Beach was ticketed between 2000 and 2014 in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Virginia for violations including speeding, driving an unsafe vehicle, driving an overloaded vehicle and not carrying proof of insurance.

The highway patrol said Friday that Holland was traveling north on Interstate 75 near Gainesville on Thursday when he veered into another car, lost control and went through the center divider, striking a southbound church van from Louisiana and another truck. Five children from ages 9 to 14 in the van died.

5 p.m.

The victims of the crash that left seven people, including five children, dead have been identified. 

The Florida Highway Patrol released the following names Friday afternoon:

  • Steve Holland, 59, of West Palm Beach, was driving one of the semi-trucks involved in the crash. He died at the scene.
  • Douglas Bolkea, 49, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was driving one of the semi-trucks involved in the crash. He died at the scene.
  • Joel Cloud, 14, of Marksville, Louisiana, was a passenger in the church van heading to the Disney World when the crash took place.
  • Jeremiah Warren, 14, of Marksville, Louisiana, was a passenger in the church van heading to the Disney World when the crash took place.
  • Cierra Bordelan, 9, of Marksville, Louisiana, was a passenger in the church van heading to the Disney World when the crash took place.
  • Cara Descant, 13, of Marksville, Louisiana, was a passenger in the church van heading to the Disney World when the crash took place.
  • Brieana Descant, 10, of Marksville, Louisiana, was a passenger in the church van heading to the Disney World when the crash took place.

The surviving victims are still in either serious or critical condition, according to the Highway Patrol.

4:10 p.m.

Pentecostals of Gainesville, a church near the crash site where seven people, including five children, died, has been helping the surviving crash victims and families of the victims in the wake of the tragedy.

Many of the victims were traveling from a Pentecostal church in Marksville, Louisiana to Walt Disney World when the crash happened Thursday.

"Our church is doing whatever we can to offer meals, offer houses, to pay for hotels, whatever we have to do to help wish travel expense (and) back and forth," Pentecostals of Gainesville Pastor Jimmy Toney said.

Toney said the church group raised money for about a year to go to Disney.

The church set up a fundraiser to help cover travel, housing and other expenses for families coming to Florida while victims recover.

Click here to donate on the Pentecostals of Gainesville website.

Toney said a pregnant woman on the church van involved in the crash has not delivered her baby and she is doing OK. A post from the victim's church previously said she had to deliver the baby after the crash.

"These are some of the most resilient people that I have ever met, they have a great faith base," Toney said.

Debris from the crash on I-75 near Gainesville, Fla. where seven people were killed on Jan. 3, 2019. (Images: FHP Tampa)

 3:10 p.m.

Walt Disney World officials are expressing their sympathies to the families of the seven victims of a fiery Florida highway crash, including five children headed to the park.

Spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler said Friday that "there are no words to convey the sorrow we feel for those involved."

The children were riding in van belonging to a Pentecostal church in Marksville, Louisiana. Officials say they ranged in age from 8 to teens.

The van was an hour north of the theme park Thursday when a tractor-trailer heading in the opposite direction on Interstate 75 collided with a car and both burst through the center divider. The van and another truck collided with the semi and the car and burst into flames.

Five children and both truck drivers died.

10:20 a.m.

The Florida Highway Patrol says five children from Louisiana and two tractor-trailer truck drivers died in a fiery crash on a Florida interstate.

During a news conference on Friday morning, Lt. Patrick Riordan said the church passenger van carrying the children was from the Avoyelles Parish in Louisiana and was headed to Disney World. The crash happened at 3:40 p.m. Thursday just south of Gainesville in Florida.

Riordan says a tractor-trailer and a passenger vehicle traveling north, collided and went through the guardrail into the southbound lanes. They struck the passenger van and another tractor-trailer. He says when the trucks collided they caught fire.

“There are no words to convey the sorrow we feel for those involved in yesterday’s tragedy. We extend heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones impacted by this tragic accident," said Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler.

Riordan says next of kin notifications are still underway.

The northbound lanes of the interstate reopened on Friday and one southbound lane is now open.

A traffic homicide investigation continues into what caused the crash.

8:45 a.m.

The Florida Highway Patrol says all northbound lanes of Interstate 75 in Florida are open the morning after a fiery crash that killed seven people and injured at least eight others.

Motorists should expect delays on Friday as only one southbound lane is open south of Gainesville, where the crash happened Thursday afternoon.

The highway patrol has scheduled a 10 a.m. news conference to discuss the investigation into the crash.

Two big rigs and two passenger vehicles collided and diesel fuel spilled across the busy highway.

Sgt. Steve Gaskins said the investigation is classified as a traffic homicide, which is routine in nature.

THURSDAY

9:15 p.m.

Authorities say another person has died in a fatal crash on a Florida highway, bringing the death toll to seven.

Two big rigs and two passenger vehicles collided and spilled diesel fuel across the highway Thursday on Interstate 75 near Gainesville, sparking a massive fire.

The Gainesville Sun reports several others were taken to the hospital, some with critical injuries.

Emergency crews extinguished the fire and said they were treating the crash as a homicide investigation. Authorities have not why they are treating the deaths as potential homicides.

Authorities say their top priority is identifying the victims so they can notify their relatives.

The aftermath closed part of the highway in both directions for hours, causing massive delays.

6:50 p.m.

Highway officials say six people have died after a crash and diesel fuel spill sparked a massive fire on a Florida interstate.

The Florida Highway Patrol says two tractor-trailer rigs and two passenger vehicles were involved in Thursday's wreck on Interstate 75 about a mile (1.6 kilometers) south of Alachua, near Gainesville. Authorities say the fire was ignited after about 50 gallons (189 liters) of diesel spilled onto the highway.

The fire has been extinguished. Eight others have been taken to the hospital. The Gainesville Sun reports some of the injuries were critical.

A helicopter landed to search for injured people who may have been in the woods along the crash scene.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that a pregnant victim on a church van did not deliver her baby after the I-75 crash. The story previously attributed the birth to a post on the Facebook page of the Louisiana district office of the United Pentecostal Church International and signed by Kevin Cox, the church's Louisiana district superintendent. Another official later corrected that post.

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