Family Of Child Killed In Fiery I 75 Crash With Truck Files Lawsuit

Three children on their way to Disney World who died when thrown from a church van in a fiery crash were wearing seat belts, federal officials revealed on Wednesday.

The preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report released part of its investigation into the January 3 crash in Florida that killed seven - five children in the van and two big rig drivers.

It has not been reported if the children, from Marksville, Louisiana, were wearing lap or shoulder belts at the time of the crash.

The Florida Highway Patrol said a northbound tractor-trailer, driven by Steve Holland, 59, crashed into a car and burst through a guardrail, hitting a southbound 18-wheeler, driven by Douglas Bolkema, 49, as well as the oncoming church van.

Both Holland and Bolkema died in the crash.

The children killed were Joel Cloud, 14, Jeremiah Warren, 14, Cierra Bordelan, 9, Cara Descant, 13, and Briana Descant, 10.

Five children in a church van from Louisiana died in the crash including Jeremiah Warren, 14, (left) and Briana Descant, 10, (right)

Five children in a church van from Louisiana died in the crash including Jeremiah Warren, 14, (left) and Briana Descant, 10, (right)

Joel Cloud, 14, Cara Descant, 13, and Cierra Bordelan, 9, (left to right) were also killed. Federal officials say it appears three of the children were wearing seat belts when they were ejected from a church van in a fiery crash on Interstate 75 in Florida

Joel Cloud, 14, Cara Descant, 13, and Cierra Bordelan, 9, (left to right) were also killed. Federal officials say it appears three of the children were wearing seat belts when they were ejected from a church van in a fiery crash on Interstate 75 in Florida

The Florida Highway Patrol said a tractor-trailer and a car crashed and burst through a guardrail, hitting a southbound 18-wheeler and the church van

The Florida Highway Patrol said a tractor-trailer and a car crashed and burst through a guardrail, hitting a southbound 18-wheeler and the church van 

Horrifying footage from the scene showed the huge fire engulfing several vehicles, with flames so intense they damaged parts of the road.

The preliminary report states: 'Five vehicles with a total of 16 occupants were involved in the crash.

'Five occupants of the van were wearing their available lap/shoulder belts — including three who were ultimately ejected from the vehicle.

'The driver and front seat passenger were restrained with lap/shoulder belts and were not ejected.'

'Once those semis struck, they both caught fire,' Louisiana Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Patrick Riordan said at the time of the crash.

Some 50 gallons of diesel spilled, fueling the fire that also damaged the road. 

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

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

Workers look at a charred truck after the crash with multiple fatalities on Interstate 75

Workers look at a charred truck after the crash with multiple fatalities on Interstate 75

'While seat belts remain an indispensable safety tool, they are not infallible,' said Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. 'The reality is that in certain rollover circumstances — particularly for large vehicles like passenger vans — seat belts by themselves are not enough.'

Levine said the addition of 'electronic stability control has been such a valuable tool in saving lives.' He added that 'increasing truck safety, by use of technology like speed limiters and automatic emergency braking will undoubtedly save lives.' 

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