4-year-old girl dies after fiery crash on I-10 in Columbia County: FHP

A 4-year-old girl is dead after a crash in Lake City Thursday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The FHP report said the car the 4-year-old was riding in tried to overtake a vehicle ahead of it on I-10 around 7:40 p.m. Thursday.

According to troopers, when the 33-year-old driver who was attempting to pass the car in front of her tried to merge back into the left lane in front of the car she was passing, the left side of her car hit the front right of the other vehicle, sending the passing car into a spin that ended when the car slammed into a tree in the center median and then caught fire.

The 33-year-old driver, 4-year-old girl and another 8-year-old boy in the car were all taken to area hospitals with serious injuries, and the girl later died, troopers said.

The 41-year-old driver of the other car and a 19-year-old passenger were not hurt.

Everyone involved in the crash was wearing a seat belt or in a child restraint, according to the report.

News4JAX spoke to a woman Friday who witnessed the crash and said a good Samaritan ran towards the car on fire and was able to pull three people out.

“I was dark. There was a lot of traffic and all I saw was a car veering off,” Theresa Floyd said.

Floyd said she and several other drivers pulled over and rushed to help as the car quickly burst into flames.

“The gentleman got out and ran over there. He pulled them out. The car was smoking,” Floyd said. “He’s a hero. I don’t know his name, but he pulled all of them out and got them to the grass.”

According to Floyd, the mother and her son were alert but the 4-year-old girl was “lifeless.” She recalled seeing the 31-year-old mother “crying out for her daughter.”

She said she can’t help but think of this family and all they lost on Thanksgiving.

“It’s hard because I have six grandchildren, and it’s just not something you can get out of your head,” Floyd said.

About the Authors:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.