WEST BROWARD, Fla. – Florida Highway Patrol released some of its findings from the Thursday late afternoon crash that injured 4 adults, 3 children, and killed a 1-year-old boy.
For nearly five hours on Thursday that stretched into the evening, the eastbound lanes of Alligator Alley (Interstate 75) were shut down as a frantic search was underway for a baby ejected from the pick-up truck after it overturned several times.
Family members who survived the crash told first responders that the 1-year-old child was missing. Two of the people in the truck were reportedly the children’s parents — one of whom was the 33-year-old driver.
The rollover accident happened around 4:30 p.m. Thursday near Mile Marker 27 in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 75.
The FHP investigation stated that after a tire blowout, the vehicle ran off the roadway to the right and onto the grassy shoulder of the road, where it overturned several times, ending up on its roof facing south.
“This vehicle swerved into the right and rolled over,” Lieutenant Yanko Reyes of the Florida Highway Patrol said.
The passengers, all from the Tampa, Fla., area, according to the report, were in a Nissan Frontier mid-size pick up truck.
The report said none of them were wearing seat belts or were in child restraints.
Local 10 is working to get information from FHP about charges the driver of the truck, who suffered minor injuries, could possibly face.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, drivers and passengers 18 or older can be cited if they, or any passenger under the age of 18, are not properly strapped in. Drivers will be charged with a violation if any passenger under the age of 18 is not restrained with a seat belt or child restraint device. However, more serious charges could be lodged against the driver because of the death of the boy because of the crash.
Passengers in the truck were two women, ages 31 and 56 — both sustained serious injuries. 4 children were also in the pick up: Two girls, ages 10 and 8, and two boys, ages 4 and 1. The three children who survived the crash suffered minor injures. The injured were taken to Broward Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic. FHP told Local 10 that those who were taken to Broward Medical Center were released Friday.
The 1-year-old boy was ejected from the truck and, after the extensive search, was found underwater by a diver in a nearby canal.
However, search teams did not know of the child’s location immediately and combed through thick grass, and also clearing the area around the vehicle in hopes of finding him alive. Multiple law enforcement and fire rescue agencies searched with drones overhead while the Broward Sheriff’s Office helicopter circled above.
At 5:45 p.m., officials determined that the rescue mission had turned to a recovery mission.
On the ground, as many as 50 firefighters canvassed the area. Also, K-9 units were called in. Divers searched the murky waters of a nearby canal. When the truck was pulled from the muddy embankment, BSO divers made the tragic discovery.
“We conducted a thorough search and we were able to find the deceased body of the 1-year-old male,” Reyes said.
The Florida Highway Patrol is continuing the investigation.