8 dead, 10 injured in Florida church van crash, Highway Patrol says

(SOURCE)  At least eight people died and 10 others were injured early Monday when a church van from Fort Pierce ran through a stop sign, crossed all lanes of U.S. 27 and landed in a canal in southwest Florida, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

The crash happened around 12:30 a.m. in Glades County at an intersection. Glades County is east of Lake Okeechobee.

There were 18 people in the van, Lt. Gregory S. Bueno said. The driver and seven passengers are confirmed dead. Bueno said it was not foggy in the area when the crash occurred.

The group was returning home from the Eglise De Dieu La Jerusalem Celeste church in Fort Myers to the Independent Haitian Assembly of God in Fort Pierce, according to friends and family at the accident scene, Fox 4 reports.

“It’s heartbreaking” Dina Sarver, a friend of those in the van, told WINK. “Because it is so many of us. You know there are people there at the church waiting, we’re two hours away, it was supposed to be a simple go, have fun, come back. It just didn’t turn out to be like that.”

 Officials have not yet released the names of the victims. Family members are still waiting to be notified of the crash, MyFoxTampaBay.com reports.

Friends and family say one of the passengers was able to crawl out of the wreckage and call for help, Fox 4 reports.

The injured passengers were taken to four hospitals, Bueno said. A 4-year-old child was in stable condition at a Fort Myers hospital. At least two patients were classified as trauma alerts. The injury status of two others weren’t immediately known. The conditions of the other passengers ranged from serious to stable.

One of the five patients taken to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers was released, said Chris Dion, the hospital’s administrative supervisor. Two patients there were in critical condition and two others were in stable condition Monday morning, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.