Eight people were killed and 10 were hurt in Florida on Monday when their church van drove through a stop sign and crashed into a roadside canal that was partially filled with water, authorities said.
The single-vehicle crash occurred in rural Glades County in the south-central part of the state at about 12:30 a.m., Lieutenant Gregory Bueno of the Florida Highway Patrol said in a statement.
The van, affiliated with a Haitian church in Fort Pierce, Florida, carried a group returning home from a religious event, according to NBC2 News, a local television station.
Passenger Nicholas Alexis, who sustained leg injuries, told the station that bodies fell on top of him and into the water.
“I said, ‘I need help! I need help!’ he said.
A preliminary investigation indicated that the van carrying 18 people was traveling east on State Road 78 when it passed through a stop sign. It crossed all lanes of traffic on U.S. Highway 27 and ended up in a steep, water-filled canal on the highway’s grass shoulder, Bueno said.
The driver of the van and seven passengers died, and 10 other passengers were taken to local hospitals, according to the statement.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.