A deadly car accident took place on Friday, October 17, 2008 off Florida’s Turnpike. The group of eight was traveling from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale for a religious event, when the left rear tire blew.
Moline Etienne, the driver of the 2000 Ford Expedition, lost control of the vehicle near the Lake Worth service plaza. The tire’s rim dug into the asphalt, causing the SUV to roll over the cable barrier into a 15-foot-deep canal, where it came to rest upside down.
Authorities have stated that alcohol was not a factor in the fatal crash. It is unclear what caused the tire to blow.
Five of the eight occupants in the vehicle were killed, including three children. Those fatally injured in the crash included Malesha Louis, 5, Roodandray Louis, 3 and Natayel Meyer, 10. The driver was also killed along with the passenger, Shelly Peters, 30. Among those killed in the accident, only the driver was wearing a seatbelt.
There were three survivors of the devastating crash and two are still in Delray Medical Hospital. The most recent update indicated that Enichka Maurice, 15, improved to fair condition and Shadrack Gustave, 6, is still listed in serious condition. Gina Merceron, 41, who is the owner of the Ford Expedition, was treated and released on Saturday.
Merceron walked away from the accident with only a swollen eye. She told her sons that Jesus protected her during the ordeal. Merceron had been submerged in the car until rescuers arrived at the scene.
When rescue workers arrived, they found one of the children crying in a ditch. The rescue team, which included divers, searched the road shoulder and canal for additional victims, before suspending the search until the morning.
Cable barriers had been installed along certain areas of the turnpike in 2007 to prevent such accidents as the one that occurred last Friday. The canal protection program cost $71 million and was the result of a 2004 accident that killed three boys riding in a church bus that veered off the road into a canal near the Glades Road exit.