Crash near Lake City kills 2, injures 8, including children

1:53 PM, Feb 22, 2014   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: New Port Richey church van crashes near Lake City

Video: New Port Richey church van crashes near Lake City

Jeff Novak was killed when a church van he was driving blew a tire and flipped. One other adult passenger was killed, six teen passengers suffered minor injuries and 1 was listed in critical condition the night the accident occurred.



COLUMBIA COUNTY, Florida -- Two adults are dead and eight others, including children, are hurt after a church van crashed in Columbia County Friday morning.

The Florida Highway Patrol says the crash occurred around 8:15 a.m. on I-75 at the on-ramp to US Highway 90 outside Lake City. 

The van, from First Baptist Church in New Port Richey, was headed to a weekend church camp in Covington, Georgia more than 400 miles away when investigators say the tread of the left rear tire separated causing the driver to lose control and overturn. The accident happened when they were about half way there.

Jeff Novak, 52, and Michalanne Salliotte, 44, both of New Port Richey, were ejected and died at the scene. There were seven children on board the van, Sgt. Pace said, with ages ranging from 12-16 years old.

Wally Potts is a Sunday school teacher at the church who says it's a very difficult thing for him and his wife and their extended church family. He says, "It's a numbing thing."

Associate Pastor Ed Gilman says, "I'm sad to report the loss of two of our dearly beloved members in a traffic crash this morning."

Oliver Newman, 12; Jared Gress, 14; Eric Paules, 12; Javen Andrews, 13; and Corinn Salliotte, 16 were all taken to Lake City Medical Center with minor injuries. 

Jared Leach, 14, is in serious condition and Jacob Newman, 14, is in critical condition at UF Health Shands. 

The surviving adult Sherri Paules, 45, was taken to Lake City Medical Center with minor injuries.

Pictures posted on Facebook hours earlier show a chartered bus with 53 people from the same church was traveling in front of the van when the crash happened.

The investigation is ongoing.

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