By Julie Vaughan
VAN—A family trip to the water park inCantonturned deadly Monday afternoon on Interstate 20 when a vehicle overturned killing three children instantly, two other children died at hospitals later, while seven other people were transported to area hospitals for injuries.
At around2:15, a 2003 GMC Envoy driven by Fedrico Esquivel Acuna, 36, ofMarshall, had a blow-out causing him to lose control of his vehicle while traveling westbound down I-20.
Department of Public Safety Corporal Kaleb Bullock said Acuna and his front seat passenger were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. However, his 10 passengers were not.
Bullock said the two adult passengers were ages 35 and 34. The remainder of the passengers were children ranging in age from 15 to 2.
“There were five people in the middle of the vehicle and five people in the back of the vehicle,” Bullock explained. “None of them had seat belts on and none of the children were in car seats.”
One trooper stated on scene that adults or perhaps the older children were reportedly holding the much younger children in their lap at the time of the crash.
The deceased on scene included a 2-year-old, 6-year-old and 13-year-old. All were females.
A 3-year-old boy who was transported toRenaissanceHospitalin Terrell and a 7-year-old girl who was flown to Children’sMedicalCenterinDallaspassed away later Monday evening.
“The vehicle was westbound on Interstate 20 in the outside lane when his right rear tire blew out. The driver started to lose control and traveled in a side-skid to the right off the road and the vehicle began to roll,” Bullock said.
“The vehicle then rolled to the right and rolled several times, hitting a road sign and landing on its top,” Bullock continued noting the vehicle rolled at least four times. “Everyone in the vehicle, except the driver and passenger, were ejected from the vehicle.”
The vehicle came to rest down the westbound service road of I-20 just past the 537 mile marker.
Four children were flown to Children’sMedicalCenterinDallas. Four other people were taken toEastTexasMedicalCenterinTylerand two others were transported by ground ambulance to hospitals inTyler. Bullock said their injuries ranged from non-incapacitating to serious.
At press time Tuesday, one of the children remained in critical condition at Children’sMedicalCenter.
The accident is still under investigation; however, Bullock said the driver could be facing charges of criminally negligent homicide or child endangerment.
Bullock went on to state that it is the law that children who are less than the age of 8 or less than 4’9” be in a car seat.