ORLANDO, Fla. (WPRI) — Four members of a Massachusetts family including children died following a crash Tuesday evening near Orlando, Florida.
Police say the family’s minivan rolled over after a pickup truck hit it from behind around 5:30 p.m.
Julie Smith, 41, and Scarlett Smith, 5, both of Whitman, and Josephine Fay, 71, of South Weymouth, were pronounced dead at the scene. All three were seated in the back row of the van, which took the brunt of the impact, according to police.
Later on Wednesday, police confirmed that 11-year-old Jackson Smith died from his injuries at the hospital.
Four other people were hurt in the crash: Scarlett’s twin sister, their 10-year-old sibling, their father and their grandfather have all been treated and released from the hospital.
Police said everyone in the vehicle was wearing a seat belt except the father, who was driving.
The driver of the pickup truck will be charged, police added, but the exact charges won’t be released until the investigation is completed.
Whitman Superintendent Jeffrey Szymaniak said Jackson was a sixth-grade student while Scarlett was enrolled at a private preschool in town.
“This is a tragedy, and I believe I express the sentiments of all families, students and employees of the Whitman-Hanson Regional School District in saying that we mourn together during this incredibly difficult time,” Szymaniak said in a statement. “I encourage all families to have honest and open conversations with their children. We have activated all the resources at our disposal, and we will come together as a community to support each other and support our students who have suffered this terrible loss.”
Szymaniak said counseling will be available at the affected schools for any students and staff in need of support.
Two other vehicles were involved in the crash and those who were injured are expected to be OK.
Police said the tragedy serves as a warning to drivers.
“Traffic had begun to slow as it does during that time. A pickup truck did not slow and rear-ended a van,” Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Kim Montes said. “It’s a reminder for drivers that traffic can stop suddenly. If you’re traveling along, you don’t know what may be up ahead that causes traffic to slow.”