JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 62-year-old man was more than three times the legal limit and had marijuana in his system June 11 when he ran a red light and plowed his Toyota Tundra into a van carrying six special needs passengers, police said.
The crash was reported about 3:15 p.m. on University Boulevard at Kennerly Road.
The van, which was from R&R Loving Hands, a nonprofit that cares for individuals with disabilities, had been headed north on University Boulevard when Donald Gibson ran a red light at Kennerly Road and crashed into the van, police said.
The driver and six special needs passengers were taken to Memorial Hospital. Mark Cole, 59, died two days later, and Jeffrey Stark, 71, died a week later. Stark was blind and deaf.
A woman who was seriously injured needed surgery on her large and small intestines, police said.
Pastor Ed Bez, with the Christ the Messiah Church, told News4Jax that all the victims attended a day care at his church.
“It just grieved my heart. It was so tragic to me personally that the folks had no idea that it was coming," Bez said Wednesday. "They were handicapped. They were unable to see or to hear and, all of a sudden, their lives are extinguished.”
The pastor attended the funerals of Cole and Stark. He said the two men were truly loved.
“The impact that they had was absolutely astounding," Bez said.
According to police, a blood test taken at the hospital showed Gibson's blood alcohol concentration was 0.287 and there was marijuana in his system.
Gibson has been charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter, one count of DUI with serious bodily injury and four counts of DUI with injury.
“I think that a moral universe demands that some consequence and justice is won for those that have lost their lives," Bez said.
News4Jax checked Gibson's driving history and found only one previous ticket for careless driving last year.
Gibson's family told News4Jax by phone on Thursday that his arrest is upsetting and their hearts go out to the victims. They said they're hoping to get in touch with the victims' families.