LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- A Lee County organization needs your help to buy a new van. LARC's van was involved in a deadly accident on I-75 in Sarasota county June 30th. It was carrying eight people to a summer camp north of Orlando.
Two residents died.
LARC helps people with developmental disabilities. After this crash, they're down to one van for the Fort Myers area, and the community has asked how it can help. One former board member decided to start a fund for donations.
When Michael Geml heard the news of the June 30th crash, he took action. "Once you're associated with LARC, they become part of your family. And it was if I had lost a family member. And I felt compelled that I had to do something," he said.
He served on LARC's board of directors in the 80s. Geml has set up an account at Suntrust Bank. The money will help the organization buy a new van. "I knew that the van was so critical to their operation, in getting clients to and from services and their homes," he said.
LARC has only one van for the Fort Myers area, and limited funds. "If transportation is not provided, the people will be isolated in their own homes from the community," said LARC Executive Director Roger Bradley.
The crash Sunday killed two LARC clients. One of them, is 44 year old Georgianna Bennett, seen in a photo dressed up for ladies night in 2009. She's been with LARC for more than 20 years. "She's a pleasant, engaging personality, always smiling, and cheerful, sharing with other people her experiences, just a treasure to know," said Bradley.
While it's still difficult for everyone to cope with what happened, they're grateful people want to help. "I would just say that if anybody deserves the support, certainly the clients of LARC do," said Geml.
The last van is on its way today to pick up the remaining people from that summer camp.
Anyone can go into Suntrust Bank and make a deposit to LARC. An account, #019191 201 6656 has been established at SunTrust Bank for the purpose of raising funds to assist with the purchase.
Two people, one client, and a staff member, remain in different hospitals after the crash. The executive director is hopeful both people will be out by early next week.