Moment a truck plows into a church van killing five children and two adults

Daily Mail

Horrifying dash cam footage shows the moment an out-of-control semi-trailer truck plowed into a church van on a Florida interstate, killing five children and two adults on their way to Disneyland.

The newly-uncovered video of the fiery crash, obtained by, shows the truck, driven by 59-year-old Steve Holland, cross over the median before smashing into the driver side of the van before hitting another truck. 

The children killed, Joel Cloud, 14, Jeremiah Warren, 14, Cierra Bordelan, 9, Cara Descant, 13, and Briana Descant, 10, were all from the small town of Marksville, Louisiana and had saved for a year for the trip.

Holland and another truck driver also died.

The families of the victims have now sued Eagle Express Lines, the trucking company which employed Holland, alleging negligence and wrongful death.

One of the surviving chaperones who is part of the lawsuit, Ali Laborde, who was inside the van and who lost her daughter Cara and Cara’s cousin Cierra in the crash has now spoken out for the first time.

‘I feel such a weight, such a heaviness. I feel like I’m living a nightmare, like I’m living someone else’s life,’ Laborde told CBS News in an interview that aired on CBS This Morning on Wednesday.


The video of the moment of impact came from the dash cam of another vehicle involved in the wreck.

Kurt Arnold, founding partner of Arnold & Itkin, LLP, and the lawyer representing most of the victims’ families told

‘Anyone who views the dash cam video can see that the Eagle Express truck is completely at fault in this deadly crash. That truck shot across the median like a rocket.’

The company has said the crash occurred after Holland suffered a medical emergency.

The footage sheds more light on the scene from January 3, when Holland was traveling north on Interstate 75, about one mile south of Alachua, near Gainesville.

In the video the truck can be seen veering into another car, before careening out of control and crossing through the center divider, striking the southbound church van that carried the five children before colliding with another truck.

Huge fires erupted engulfing several vehicles, with flames so intense they damaged parts of the road.

‘Once those semis struck, they both caught fire,’ Louisiana Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Patrick Riordan said at the time.

‘I remember closing my eyes and thinking this is it. We’re gonna die,’ Laborde, who was 31 weeks pregnant at the time, said.

At least eight people were sent to the hospital with injuries. Two tractor trailers, a van and a midsize sedan were involved in the mid afternoon crash.

Riordan said a fifth vehicle came through and either struck people who had been ejected from the vehicle or debris.

Laborde woke up after the crash surrounded by flames and bodies, and in a state of denial.

‘I kept telling myself, “Everyone’s okay. They’re just hurt.” I didn’t realize the severity. I didn’t realize that there were five children that there weren’t alive,’ Laborde said.

She learned of her daughter Cara’s death while she was in a hospital bed.

‘I said, “No, I don’t want you tell me. I don’t want to hear that. I don’t want you to tell me that my daughter’s gone. I don’t want you to tell that she’s not here anymore,”‘ Laborde said, her eyes welling up with tears and her voice quaking.

Laborde’s other daughter, Chelsey, was also in the van. She survived, though not without scars that serve as a constant reminder of the accident that ripped their family from them.

The baby Laborde was carrying also survived, and was born several weeks later.

Cara, her daughter that didn’t make it, was ecstatic over expecting another sister and had ordered outfits for her soon-to-be-arriving sibling with her Christmas money. Laborde found the gifts once she returned home from the hospital after the crash.

Laborde named her Cambrie, which means ‘Angel,’ and has called her their ‘miracle baby.’

The tragedy occurred during the government shutdown, so the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) was unable to immediately investigate the scene.

The video has now become a crucial part of the review in the agency’s effort to determine what exactly went wrong.

In a statement to CBS, Aaron Gunderson who serves as general counsel for Eagle Express Lines, the trucking company which employed Holland, said:

‘We lost a life in this tragedy as well. Mr. Holland was an excellent driver and had driven this same route hundreds of times. He is deeply missed by his friends and family. It appears that he suffered a sudden medical emergency that rendered him unconscious, thus leading to the accident.’

Arnold said the company has ‘provided no proof or evidence to support any claim of medical emergency or justification for their driver’s conduct.’

In January it came to light that Holland of West Palm Beach had been issued several traffic tickets over the years.

Court records show Holland was ticketed between 2000 and 2014 in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Virginia for violations including speeding, driving an unsafe vehicle, driving an overloaded vehicle and not carrying proof of insurance.

Arnold told ‘This terrible tragedy was 100 percent avoidable, and by filing the lawsuits, the families will be able to use the court system to get the answers they deserve.

‘It’s our goal to discover the full truth of why this happened and the truth will prevent future disasters from destroying the lives of other families.’

Regarding the company’s efforts to assist the surviving victims, Gunderson said:

‘We mourn the tragic accident of January 3rd and the loss of lives as well as the injured. The families involved have remained in our thoughts and prayers. We reached out to the families and their lawyers, who were retained within two days of the accident, and offered immediate financial assistance for travel, medical and funeral expenses. In addition, we met with those same lawyers within a week’s time and agreed to voluntarily provide all the documentation the lawyers requested.’

Arnold responded: ‘Despite clear liability and devastating consequences, the defendants have attempted to insulate themselves and limit their potential financial exposure resulting from this deadly crash.

‘The defendants’ unwillingness to accept full responsibility has necessitated the lawsuits recently filed in Chicago.’

3 thoughts on “Moment a truck plows into a church van killing five children and two adults

    1. Usually texting, lack of sleep or doing something stupid like reaching for something etc, etc etc. Hardly ever a medical issue. When your crossed up like that it’s over reacting to something.

      Yep, it’s sad as hell man. This guy was delivering mail, could tell by the markings and by the carrier name “EAGLE”.

      These guys are under the gun most of the time.

      This damn job, dangerous as hell.

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