5 children heading to Disney World among those killed in fiery Florida crash

/ CBS/AP

Deadly Florida car crash possible homicide?

Five children heading to Disney World in a church van from Louisiana died along with two truck drivers in a fiery crash, authorities said Friday. The van was traveling on Interstate 75 near Gainesville when it got caught in a pileup involving two 18-wheelers.

On Thursday, two vehicles traveling north — a tractor-trailer and a car — smashed into each other and then burst through a metal guardrail, slamming into another semitrailer and the van carrying the children. Diesel fuel leaked and the mass erupted into a fireball.

A fifth car, unable to avoid the chaos, sped through, possibly hitting victims ejected from the vehicles, the highway patrol said. Five of the children from a Pentecostal church in Marksville, Louisiana, and the two truck drivers died. At least eight others were injured, some seriously.

The children were identified as Cierra Bordelan, 9; Briena Descant, 10; Cara Descant, 13; Joel Cloud, 14; and Jeremiah Warren, 14. They were all from Marksville, Louisiana. The truck drivers were identified as Douglas Bolkema, 49, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Steve Holland, 59, of West Palm Beach.

"It is a heartbreaking event," Lt. Patrick Riordan said Friday. He did not identify the church involved, but a member of the Avoyelles House of Mercy told The Gainesville Sun her church was stunned.

"It's unbelievable. Everybody is in shock. We lost five of our children," church member Maxine Doughty said. "We had our Last Supper Sunday and the pastor said to live our lives like each day is the last day."

Major crash on I75 southbound near mile market 394 near #gainesvile Florida. @MYACFR says multiple fatalities and injuries reported. pic.twitter.com/Qe06upHYe7

— CBS4 Gainesville (@mycbs4) January 3, 2019

The National Transportation Safety Board would normally send a team to help with the investigation, but cannot because of the federal government shutdown. Riordan said Friday that will not impede the highway patrol's efforts, which could take months.

Florida Department of Transportation Troy Roberts said the agency is investigating whether the guardrail should have stopped the northbound crash from crossing the highway or whether the crash was too traumatic.

"The guardrails are there to stop as much as they can, but there are some things they cannot," Roberts said. "Unfortunately, in this case, they did not."

It was the worst accident on I-75 in Alachua County since January 2012, when 11 people died in a chain reaction crash attributed to heavy fog and smoke on the road. Officials were criticized then for not closing the road because of conditions and later installed cameras, sensors and large electronic signs to help prevent similar crashes.

Disney World spokesperson Jacquee Wahler expressed the theme park's sympathies to the victims' families.

"There are no words to convey the sorrow we feel for those involved," she said. "We extend heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones impacted by this tragic accident."

First published on January 4, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Navy SEAL accused of murdering wounded ISIS fighter pleads not guilty

Edward Gallagher is also accused of taking potshots at civilians

updated 3M ago

5 children heading to Disney in church van killed in fiery crash

At least eight people were sent to the hospital with injuries

updated 8M ago

Retired Rep. Bob Brady plans on smoking pot after leaving Congress

Rep. Bob Brady says he will try pot for the first time once it is legalized in Pennsylvania

updated 17M ago

Ethics group wants Ivanka Trump investigated for tax break program

The complaint comes after Trump and her husband Jared Kushner promoted a tax break that could benefit themselves

updated 31M ago

Push for bias training in Cincinnati after officers used racial slurs

"We need to set a clear moral tone as to what's right and wrong, and using the N-word is wrong," Cincinatti mayor says

updated 58M ago

Retired Rep. Bob Brady plans on smoking pot after leaving Congress

Rep. Bob Brady says he will try pot for the first time once it is legalized in Pennsylvania

updated 17M ago

Ethics group wants Ivanka Trump investigated for tax break program

The complaint comes after Trump and her husband Jared Kushner promoted a tax break that could benefit themselves

updated 31M ago

Justice Department says its travel ban report "could be criticized"

The DOJ said it would not be retracting or correcting the study

updated 22M ago

Mueller grand jury extended for up to six months

The D.C. Circuit Court has extended the grand jury the special counsel uses for indictments for up to six months

2H ago

Trump says he is considering calling a national emergency to build the wall

President Trump may call a national emergency to fund the border wall if he is unable to get sufficient funds from Congress

2H ago

U.S. believes airstrike killed terrorist behind USS Cole bombing

Al-Badawi, who was listed on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list, escaped from prison in 2006

3H ago

Family of American detained in Russia urges Congress to take action

The family of Paul Whelan, an American man detained in Russia, is urging Congress to ensure his release from detention

5H ago

Officials face deadline to move 1,500 children from "tent city"

The Tornillo, Texas facility is funded through Jan. 31, but still houses 1,500 children

5H ago

Iran says warships coming to the Atlantic for 1st time

Islamic Republic's navy has been touting a maiden voyage to the U.S.'s back yard for a while, now they say a new destroyer will set sail this spring

7H ago

Monks show off mobility to protest driving ticket blamed on robe

Man refuses to pay traffic ticket and his fellow monks are now using social media to prove their robes do not inhibit mobility

8H ago

Lin-Manuel Miranda shares videos of "Hamilton" rehearsals in Puerto Rico

Miranda shared videos of the cast and orchestra rehearsing, giving people a sneak peak at the reprisal of his role in "Hamilton"

updated 58M ago

Britney Spears going on "indefinite work hiatus" due to father's health

Spears will not be performing her new Vegas show "Britney: Domination"

2H ago

Ed Sheeran ordered to face lawsuit accusing him of plagiarizing Marvin Gaye

Lawsuit accuses songwriter of lifting Gaye's 1973 classic "Let's Get it On" for his 2014 hit "Thinking Out Loud"

7H ago

Book excerpt: Michael Caine's "Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: And Other Lessons in Life"

In his new memoir the actor discusses life lessons, including how to "use the difficulty" when facing obstacles

9H ago

Ellen reveals she called Academy in bid to re-hire Kevin Hart as Oscars host

Kevin Hart stepped down last month, after facing criticism over homophobic tweets from several years ago that resurfaced online

9H ago

L.A. sues Weather Channel over app users’ data

The Weather Channel app may be sharing your location data with advertisers without your consent, according to a lawsuit by the Los Angeles city attorney

1H ago

Ambitious effort to clean up Great Pacific Garbage Patch faces major setback

Inventor Boyan Slat wants to clean up more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the water between California and Hawaii

23H ago

Apple's "darkest day" raises doubts about iPhone's future

Waning demand for the tech giant's flagship product has some analysts asking where the company goes from here

Jan 3

First meteor shower of 2019 peaks Thursday

It's the first meteor shower of 2019 – and it's not the only astronomical phenomenon taking place this month

Jan 3

Chinese spacecraft landed on the far side of the moon

The unmanned spacecraft, the Chang'e 4, touched down at 10:26 a.m., China Central Television said in a brief announcement

Jan 3

Do sugar-free sweeteners really help you lose weight?

Researchers reviewed more than 50 studies and found little evidence of any health benefits

Jan 3

"Sicker, Fatter, Poorer": The cost of hormone-disrupting chemicals

"We found that these exposures cost the United States $340 billion a year. That's 2.3 percent of our gross domestic product," says Dr. Leonardo Trasande

Jan 3

Sunflower butter recalled after customer finds listeria

Oskri Organics said it was informed by a customer that they "randomly" sent its product in for testing

Jan 3

The best overall diets for 2019

If getting healthy is one of your New Year's resolutions, check out this ranking of the top overall diets for 2019

Jan 2

Big Pharma raises prices of more than 1,000 drugs

Consumers may have to pay more for a range of medications in 2019 as drugmakers boost their costs

Jan 2

Ethics group wants Ivanka Trump investigated for tax break program

The complaint comes after Trump and her husband Jared Kushner promoted a tax break that could benefit themselves

updated 31M ago

Lowe's plans to hire 65,000 workers this year

Home-improvement chain says most of the jobs will be seasonal, but also include thousands of permanent roles

1H ago

Shutdown causing chaos at IRS — and may delay tax refunds

Taxpayers are still required to file, but IRS won't issue refunds while the agency remains on ice

1H ago

More than 5 million passports exposed in massive Marriott hack

Hotel chain now estimates that 383 million guest accounts were breached, one of the biggest hacks on record

3H ago

Ford recalls nearly 1 million vehicles over exploding air bags

It's part of the biggest series of recalls in U.S. history, spurred by air bags that can explode and hurl shrapnel

updated 50M ago

Push for bias training in Cincinnati after officers used racial slurs

"We need to set a clear moral tone as to what's right and wrong, and using the N-word is wrong," Cincinatti mayor says

updated 58M ago

Former protégé testifies against "El Chapo"

Vicente Zambada is the son of El Chapo's partner, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada

3H ago

Police ID woman accused of killing manicurist over $35

Las Vegas woman was being sought for allegedly using a stolen car to run over and kill a Las Vegas nail salon owner

1H ago

Police believe Idaho woman disposed of missing Colorado mom's phone

Details of the Idaho woman's relationship with Berreth's fiancé are unclear, but they reportedly knew each other for years

10H ago

Video shows suspect's truck before killing of 7-year-old girl

Search is ongoing for the suspect in the Houston shooting death of the second grader

11H ago  Original Article