Fiery crash kills five in Suwannee


Published: Sunday, July 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, June 30, 2007 at 11:29 p.m.

Five people died in a fiery, two-vehicle crash in southern Suwannee County on Friday night, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

The two vehicles burst into flames after a head-on collision on U.S. 129 shortly before 9:30 p.m., according to troopers. The crash occurred about two miles north of State Road 247 near Branford.

Two people in a 1994 Chevrolet and three occupants of a 2000 Chrysler van died in the crash, troopers reported. No one in either vehicle survived.

The car's driver apparently had attempted to pass another northbound vehicle when it drove into the path of the southbound van, FHP's preliminary investigation showed. The car overturned after the impact and caught fire. The van also erupted in flames.

Officers at the crash site described the wreck as "one of the worst fiery crashes that they had seen in a while," FHP spokesman Lt. Mike Burroughs said.

The cause of the blaze remained under investigation Saturday, but Burroughs said a fire following a vehicle crash generally is caused by a ruptured gas tank and gas lines.

Investigators were not able to confirm the identities of anyone killed in the crash due to the fire and the extent of damage to both vehicles. It would likely be Monday before troopers could provide additional information, Burroughs said. An examination of dental records will be needed before the agency could positively identify the individuals involved, he said.

The car was registered to a Suwannee County address in Branford, troopers reported. Registration for the van listed an address in Sorrento in Lake County.

Although troopers had not confirmed the information, they were investigating whether the car involved in the wreck had been carrying two women, Burroughs said. Their boyfriends may have been riding in the vehicle the car had been passing when the crash occurred, he said.

A relative of the person troopers reported the car had been registered to said Saturday the vehicle had been sold several weeks ago and that he did not have additional information about the new owner.

Lise Fisher can be reached at 352-374-5092 or fisherl@gvillesun.com.

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