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01-26-06, 03:12 PM #1
7 siblings killed, grandfather dies of heart attack
What a terrible, terrible tragedy for the mother
Grandpa dies on hearing 7 children killed in fiery wreck
LAKE BUTLER, Florida (CNN) -- News of a crash in which seven children perished so upset their grandfather that he had a massive heart attack and died, the children's adoptive mother said.
"I lost my daddy tonight," Barbara Mann said Wednesday. "My dad died of a massive heart attack tonight over all this. He lost all seven of his grandkids ... I can't deal with this."
Alvin Wilkerson, 32, has been identified as the driver of the tractor-trailer which plowed into the children's car near Gainesville, Florida, Wednesday. The impact caused the car to slam into the rear of a school bus that had stopped to let children off.
The car burst into flames, killing all the children inside, Lt. Mike Burroughs of the Florida Highway Patrol said. (Full story)
They have been identified as: Cynthia Nicole Mann and Elizabeth Mann, both 15; Ashley Keen and Johnny Mann, both 13; Miranda Finn, 9; Heaven Mann, 3; and Anthony Lamb, 20 months.
All were adopted foster children, except for Anthony, who was in the process of being adopted, Burroughs said.
Ashley and Miranda were also cousins.
At the wheel was Cynthia Mann, who had a learner's permit. Under Florida law, it is illegal for a 15-year-old to drive without an adult.
Cynthia Mann's aunt said the girl had just dropped off another child and was taking the rest of the children home "to get ready to go to church."
"It's my understanding she did not cause the accident," Tina Mann said of her niece. "The same thing would have happened had there been an adult in the car with her. We'd just have one more death in the family."
The accident occurred shortly after 3 p.m. four miles south of Lake Butler. At the time, all three vehicles -- the tractor-trailer, the car and the bus -- were heading north, said Lt. Bill Leeper of the Florida Highway Patrol.
"Basically he just wasn't paying attention, couldn't slow down in time and just ran into the back of the other vehicle," Leeper said.
The tractor-trailer left no skid marks, police told CNN Thursday. But there were marks on the road indicating the driver veered away after the initial impact, police added.
Wilkerson has been hospitalized and is medicated, police said. No charges have been filed, and the accident was under investigation.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it would participate in the investigation but was not sending a team because the school bus was not a factor in the cause of the accident.
Wilkerson was cited in 2000 and 2001 for operating a vehicle in unsafe conditions and also for driving on a suspended or revoked license in 2000.
The fact that the 15-year-old Cynthia Mann was driving the car was not relevant "to the actual crash," Leeper said.
"There are some questions we're going to need answered ... but those are questions we'll look at later," Leeper said. "Right now everything has to do with the truck."
Three of the nine children aboard the bus were seriously injured and transported by helicopter to hospitals. None of the students' injuries were life-threatening, Leeper said.
A spokeswoman for Shands Hospital in Gainesville said eight patients were transported, ages 5 to 16. Two were in critical condition; three in serious condition, Betsy Miller said.
The driver of the bus was also injured, but her condition wasn't immediately known.
01-26-06, 03:21 PM #2Indy Guest
That poor woman.
I can not even begin to fathom what kind of reason the truck driver could possibly give to make this ok. There is nothing he could say at this point to convince me that he shouldn't spend a good amount of time in jail. It sounds as though he was paying so little attention that he didn't even make an effort to stop. I hope he dreams of this every night so he learns to pay attention when driving such a huge vehicle.
01-27-06, 05:13 PM #3
How horrible. Hope she has alot of support to help her through this.
01-27-06, 05:22 PM #4Originally Posted by Indy
01-27-06, 08:32 PM #5
That was a very tragic day. This person who killed the 7 shall get punished. this person shall not drive any kind of car's or trucks anymore. You are right when you say that this person should not go to jail. This person might suffer enough from all the nightmares
My prayers do go out for the rest of the family
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