A picture released today by the Florida Highway Patrol shows what little remains of one of two tractor-trailers involved in a deadly, fiery accident last week on Interstate 75 near Gainesville, Fla.
Two truckers were killed along with five children who had been riding in a church van bound for Disney World Thursday shortly after one of the semi drivers, 59-year-old Steve Holland, veered into the path of another vehicle causing a deadly chain reaction that spanned across the north and south bound lanes near mile marker 394.
According to an FHP report, Holland was hauling a box truck in the right lane of northbound I-75 around 3:40 p.m. when for an unknown reason he moved left into the path of a 2007 Honda sedan in an adjacent northbound lane.
The impact sent both vehicles into the median and through the guardrail into the oncoming path of southbound interstate traffic about a mile south of Alachua. Holland’s 2018 tractor-trailer (make and model not provided) slammed into the driver’s side door of a 2006 Chevy passenger van filled with 12 people on a church outing headed for Disney World. The van overturned multiple times ejecting “an unknown number of occupants” onto the highway.
In his report, FHP Cpl. Gabriel Keyes wrote that it was unknown if any of the van’s occupants had been wearing seat belts. Five children in the van ranging in age from 14 to 9 were killed. Five other passengers along with the driver received serious injuries while the remaining passenger was critically injured. The van did not catch fire.
After striking the van, Holland slammed into a southbound tractor-trailer driven by 49-year-old Douglas Bolkema of Albuquerque, N.M. Both trucks caught fire along with the Honda driven by 41-year-old Robyn Rattray of Gainesville who was hospitalized with serious injuries. Holland and Bolkema were killed.
The driver of a fifth vehicle involved in the crash was not injured.
Keyes reported that alcohol was not a factor. FHP said today that the investigation will take anywhere from three to four months to complete.
Over the past 18 years, Holland had received several tickets, including one for careless driving and another for speeding, according to Ocala.com. Holland had worked as a contract mail carrier for Eagle Express Lines.