Police are still investigating how a church van full of parishioners ended up in a canal early on March 30. Florida authorities responded to the single-car accident that left eight people tragically dead and another 10 in local hospitals. As the driver is among the deceased, it is unlikely criminal charges will be filed in this case, though legal action may still be taken.
The 18-seat van, which was carrying 15 people, was traveling in Glades County around 12:30 a.m. when the crash occurred. For reasons as yet unknown, the vehicle ran a stop sign at the intersection of U.S. Highway 27 and State Road 78. The driver appeared to lose control of the vehicle at this juncture, traveling erratically around the road before striking an embankment and ending up in a water-filled ditch.
Response crews identified eight people as dead at the scene, while all 10 survivors were transported to local hospitals for treatment. Four were in critical condition, another four were in serious condition and two escaped with minor injuries. It is not yet clear why the driver ran the stop sign, but the investigation is still underway.
If the evidence suggests that the driver was somehow responsible for the car accident, Florida law permits the families of the deceased as well as those surviving with injuries to file wrongful death and personal injury suits against the driver's estate and possibly other parties with an ownership interest in the vehicle. As of this writing, police have not ruled out the possibility the driver was responsible; running a stop sign could be construed as negligence. While this makes the crash no less a tragedy, a civil lawsuit might afford the injured victims and families of deceased victims an opportunity to seek recovery of the monetary damages that inevitable accompany serious car accidents.
Source: NBC News, "Florida Church Van Crash Leaves 8 Dead, 10 Hurt; Vehicle Ends Up in Canal", Cassandra Vinograd, March 30, 2015