LAKE CITY (FBW)—A van carrying 10 people from First Baptist Church in New Port Richey crashed on I-75 near Lake City on Feb. 21, killing two adults and leaving several youth injured, according to Sgt. Tracy Hisler-Pace with the Florida Highway Patrol.
A chartered bus with 53 people from First Baptist Church in New Port Richey was in front of the van at the time of the accident, according to Hisler-Pace, and was not involved in the accident.
The wreck happened at Mile Marker 427 at 8:15 a.m., when the left rear tire on the van blew out, Hisler-Pace said. Driver Jeff Novak, 52, and chaperone Michalanne Salliotte, 44, died at the scene of the single-vehicle accident while taking a youth group to winter church camp in Covington, Ga.
A day later, everyone but 14-year-old Jacob Newman had been released from area hospitals. He was still in intensive care with broken bones and internal bleeding, according to Student Minister Brad Smith.
“They were my friends,” Smith said of Novak and Salliotte. “Both of them were. There is a great sense of loss. Aside from student ministry, there is a great deal that I’m going to miss. And in the days and weeks and months and years ahead we’ll see how that really changes me.”
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