MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A man suspected of driving drunk struck a van with 15 Minnesotans, killing one of them. It happened Tuesday along I-75 in south Florida, on what’s known as Alligator Alley.
The scene spread out across I-75 in Broward County, Florida. The horrific crash claimed the life of Lauren VanReese.
“Anyone would have been fortunate enough to know her, to be friends with her because she was, she lit up the room,” friend Mariana Martinez said.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a truck struck the passenger van 15 Minnesotans were traveling in. Both vehicles hit the median. The van flipped, then rolled several times and landed on the other side of the highway. Passengers in the van who were there to watch Twins spring training ranged in age from 4 to 69, all were injured, some of them critically.
Officers charged the driver of the truck, Nisbany Garcia with DUI manslaughter, multiple counts of DUI serious bodily injury, among other charges. Four hours after the crash, a report lists his blood alcohol level at 0.18.
Martinez is trying to grasp how what should have been a fun-filled trip ended so tragically.
“The last time I saw her, I can’t believe that was the last time I saw her,” Martinez said.
She’s thinking of everyone else who was injured.
“I have thoughts and prayers going and I just hope you guys get through it and you have a whole community next to you,” Martinez said.
Lauren’s mom Kim VanReese has been upgraded to fair condition, and so has another passenger. The Minnesotan who was driving the van has been released from the hospital.