A year later, I-75 survivors, families of victims try to cope


Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 5:53 p.m.

A year after the I-75 crashes, many of the families and victims in the tragedy are tied up in litigation and searching for closure.

Most declined to comment, citing impending lawsuits and a reluctance to revisit the issue, but several attorneys involved said family members are coping the best they can.

Lidiane Do Carmo, 16, was one of the most visible survivors of the crash. She was in critical condition after the accident.

She and family members were heading north toward home in Kennesaw, Ga., on the morning of Jan. 29, 2012, when they became part of the carnage where I-75 crosses Paynes Prairie south of Gainesville.

Her father, Jose Do Carmo Jr., 43; her mother, Adrianna Do Carmo, 39; sister, Leticia Do Carmo, 17; along with her uncle, Edson Do Carmo, 38; and his fiancee, Roselia DeSilva, 41, all were killed. Lidiane endured a long recovery at Shands at the University of Florida, and subsequently has been adopted by an uncle.

Bill Mitchell, a lawyer representing Lidiane, said she is doing well physically and improving emotionally.

He said his greatest concern right now is her psychological well being. “She is a wonderful girl. She is a beautiful girl. She is a smart girl,” he said. “And her attitude, at least on the surface, is very good.”

Mitchell said Lidiane's faith helps her deal with the loss of her family.

“Her dad was in the church, and her mom was in the church,” Mitchell said. “The church was their life, and I really think she has embraced that they are in a better place and that she will see them one day. She is going to go on and make the best of her life.”

The family of Vontavia Robinson of Williston was already reeling before the I-75 crash took his life.

Robinson, 22, had just buried his 15-month-old son earlier in January 2012, according to an obituary.

Robinson was returning from bowling with his brother when the accident occurred.

“I think his loss is felt very deeply by all involved,” attorney Jack Fine said.

Fine said the family wants closure and responsibility taken but the case currently is in litigation with the trucking company whose truck stopped in the middle of I-75 when it encountered the thick smoke and fog that morning.

“I think the problem is that, unlike some of the other cases where the defendants tried to mediate and obtain closure,” Fine said, “in this case there's been no effort on the part of the trucking company to do that.”

Christie Nguyen also lost her life in the crash. She graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in Asian studies in 2010. Previously, she had graduated from Santa Fe College but was enrolled in a dance course at the college.

A family member told The Sun that Nguyen also was trying to get into pharmacy school.

According to attorney Daniel Glassman, Nguyen was the mother of a young child, and the family is doing everything it can to move forward.

“What they want more than anything else is for FHP and the state of Florida to take some form of responsibility for what they did,” Glassman said, “to acknowledge their mistakes and to do everything in their power so that no other 5-year-old has to lose his mother and no other parents have to lose their child.”

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