Merlande Chery of North Miami, Florida was killed in a rollover van accident on Saturday, news sources report. In the accident, a van carrying at least 20 people blew a tire and overturned on the Florida Turnpike. Chery, 46, was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. The accident injured 19 other passengers, including several children. The Florida Highway Patrol is currently conducting an investigation and has not said whether charges will be filed. It remains to be seen whether any of the victims, or Chery’s surviving relatives, will file a lawsuit.
According to reports, the van is owned by the Miami church organization GSC Community Inc. The van is designed to hold only 15 people, FHP says. However, at the time of the accident, the van was holding at least 20 members of the church and their luggage. So far, GSC Community Inc. not commented on the accident.
The crash occurred around 7:00 Saturday evening on the Florida Turnpike in Kenansville. Reports say the van was en route to Orlando from Miami when one of its tires exploded. This caused the van flip over several times towards the median. The force of the rollover ejected Chery from the vehicle; no one else was ejected.
Paramedics pronounced Chery dead at the scene. Three victims on to a helicopter for emergency transport to a nearby hospital; 16 other were either taken to the hospital by ambulance or treated at the scene. The FHP said none of the injuries were life-threatening.
The FPH is now investigating and said they are not sure whether any of the victims were wearing their seat belts, adding that it was “very fortunate” that only one person was thrown from the bus. “We’re still determining how many times the vehicle rolled,” an FHP spokesperson said.
In other news, a West Palm Beach woman was injured after she crashed into a building, sources report. The force of the crash reportedly propelled the vehicle through the building’s wall. Information regarding the victim’s identity was not immediately available following the accident. She suffered minor injuries and was treated at a nearby hospital. Police are currently conducting an investigation and have not said whether they plan to press charges or cite the victim for the crash.
Reports say the accident occurred in the 800 block of Southern Boulevard. The building the victim ran into once served as a post office for Southboro. The post office closed in July due to financial issues and was fortunately vacant at the time of the crash.
At around 3:15 Tuesday evening, the victim’s vehicle left the road and drove through the building’s wall. Inside the office, the victim reportedly turned her vehicle around and attempted to drive out of an adjoining storefront. Her vehicle, however, collided with a support beam and came to a dead halt.
Paramedics arrived on the scene and treated the victim for minor injuries. It is not yet clear what caused the victim to veer off the street and into the building. It is also not yet known whether the collision jeopardized the building’s structural integrity.