LEE COUNTY, Fla.- At least three mechanics inspected a van and its tires last week, before the vehicle crashed on I-75 in Sarasota County. The Florida Highway Patrol says the van's left rear tire blew out, causing the crash and rollover.
Two residents of LARC, a group that helps the developmentally disabled, died in the crash. One of them has been identified as Georgianna Bennett. The name of the other victim will not be released until next of kin has been notified. They and others were being driven to a summer camp north of Orlando. Two LARC employees were in the van, and one was driving at the time of the crash. Both are hospitalized, along with two other LARC residents, who were injured in the wreck.
Roger Bradley, executive director at LARC tells WINK News, the inspectors looked at the van and its tires last Thursday and Friday. One suggested that LARC replace the right rear tire, and that was done with a new tire. The left rear tire blew out.
"We have been as prudent as anyone can be, in making sure the vehicles are safe," says Bradley. "This is just a tragic accident that is disturbing and shocking to us. I have never faced anything like this in my 35 years with LARC. People are just devastated."
The women who died, and four other residents from a LARC-run home in North Fort Myers, were making the trip to the summer camp.
The Fl. Highway Patrol released a crash report late Monday afternoon, that says the driver of the van and one LARC resident, were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the wreck. The other six people, including the two women who died, were wearing restraints.