Two die when church van crashes near Lake City
Published: Friday, February 21, 2014 at 11:09 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 21, 2014 at 5:01 p.m.
Two people died and eight others, including seven youths, were injured Friday morning after a New Port Richey church van headed to Georgia overturned on Interstate 75 near Lake City.
The driver, Jeff Novak, 52, and a passenger, Michalanne Salliotte, 44, both of New Port Richey, were ejected and died at the scene, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report. Jacob Newman, 14, of New Port Richey was taken to UF Health Shands Hospital in critical condition.
The church van from First Baptist Church of New Port Richey carried three adults and seven children, FHP spokeswoman Sgt. Tracy Hisler-Pace said.
According to a preliminary investigation, Novak was driving the 2002 Ford van north on I-75 in the center lane at around 8:15 a.m. near mile marker 427. Novak lost control of the van when the tread separated from the left rear tire, the report said.
The van then traveled onto the east shoulder and overturned, ejecting several occupants. Jared Leach, 14, and Javen Andrews, 13, were also taken to Shands with Newman, the report said.
Oliver Newman, 12, Jared Gress, 14, Sherri Paules, 45, Eric Paules, 12, and Corinn Salliotte, 16, were all taken to Lake City Medical Center with minor injuries. Eric Paules was the only person listed as wearing a seat belt, the report said.
The entrance ramp to northbound I-75 from westbound U.S. 90 and two northbound lanes were closed for two hours, the report said.
A First Baptist Church of New Port Richey official who did not wish to give his name confirmed that the church van involved in the accident was from his church.
“We don’t know anything yet, just that it’s a bad accident,” he said Friday morning. “There’s a lot of families that need prayer at this time.”
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