GAINESVILLE, FL (January 5, 2019) – Five children heading to Disney World in a church van from Louisiana died along with two truck drivers in a fiery truck accident on Interstate 75 near Gainesville, Florida on Thursday, January 2nd.
The crash occurred around 3:40pm when a semi and a sedan heading north on I-75 collided and drove through the guardrail, the center median and into the southbound lanes, colliding with the van and another semi heading south.
Both semis caught fire while the van overturned, ejecting multiple people. Troopers say a fifth vehicle, a pickup truck, drove through the scene and hit debris and possibly some of the victims.
The five children who died ranged in ages from 9 to 14. 59-year-old Steve Holland, and 49-year-old Douglas Bolkema were the truck drivers who perished.
Eight others, including children, were taken to the hospital in serious condition.
The church van and Bolkema’s truck collided with Holland’s semi and another car and burst into flames. Diesel fuel leaked, and a fireball erupted.
It is unclear whether the victims were killed in the wreck or whether they burned in the fire, which would make identification more difficult.
A pattern of recklessness
The cause of the crash, which happened on a clear day on a straight, flat stretch of Interstate 75, remains under investigation, but it appears that Steve Holland, 59, the now deceased West Palm Beach, Florida truck driver, reportedly caused the fiery crash. Holland was issued 10 traffic citations in Palm Beach County, FL in a period of just four years. Holland’s record includes traffic citations from Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Virginia.
The tickets were issued for speeding, driving an unsafe vehicle, driving an overloaded vehicle and not carrying proof of insurance, based on a review of court records.
An Illinois connection
Steve Holland’s Facebook page indicates that he worked as a contract mail carrier for the Illinois-based trucking company Eagle Express Lines. The company could not be reached for comment Friday, but its Facebook page confirmed that one of its tractor-trailer drivers had died, though it never specifically identified Holland.
If you’re ever in a trucking accident
If you are ever injured in a truck accident, you need to know your legal options. It is important that you seek out advice from an experienced and knowledgeable accident attorney, one with a proven track record. You have rights after an accident, and a seasoned attorney can help you exercise them.
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