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8 more lawsuits filed in I-75 crash that killed 5 children in church van

7 died in fiery crash involving 5 vehicles just north of Gainesville

Screenshot from Garmin forward-facing video camera, shows the 2016 Freightliner entering southbound lanes just before it truck passenger van is traveling in left lane and pickup truck in center lane.
Screenshot from Garmin forward-facing video camera, shows the 2016 Freightliner entering southbound lanes just before it truck passenger van is traveling in left lane and pickup truck in center lane. (Photos released by NTSB)

Eight more lawsuits have been filed following the fiery crash that killed five children in a church van on Interstate 75 just north of Gainesville, court documents show. 

The eight personal injury complaints were filed against Eagle Express Lines in Cook County, Illinois, where the company is headquartered. Court documents show Eagle Express Lines owned a semitruck that was involved in the January crash.

The suits include claims such as negligence and wrongful death.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, seven people died and at least eight others were injured Jan. 3 when a semitractor-trailer, identified by court documents as the one owned by Eagle Express Lines, and car traveling north on I-75 collided, crossed the median, and struck an oncoming big rig and a passenger van before bursting into flames. A fifth car, unable to avoid the chaos, sped through, possibly hitting victims ejected from the vehicles, the Highway Patrol said.

The driver of the semi who crossed into oncoming traffic was fully licensed and driving within regulated hours, according to the National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report of the crash.

The report did not name the driver of the semi that crossed the median, but News4Jax previously reported that Steve Holland, 59, had received numerous tickets between 2000 and 2014 for violations such as speeding, driving an unsafe vehicle and driving an overloaded vehicle.

Five children from Avoyelles House of Mercy in Marksville, Louisiana, on their way to Disney World in the church van died in the crash. The driver of each semi also died.

The eight suits were filed by families of the injured and on behalf of the children who died.


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