Four members of a Massachusetts family were killed in a multi-vehicle crash on a Florida highway near Disney World Tuesday afternoon and two others were badly injured, Florida officials said.
The crash took place around 5:30 p.m. on Route 429 in Kissimmee, about 10 miles from the Disney resort, when a 2020 Toyota van carrying the family was rear-ended by a pickup truck, causing the van to roll over near the intersection with Sinclair Road, officials said.
Five-year-old Scarlett Smith and her mother, 41-year-old Julie Smith of Whitman, were killed, as was Julie’s mother, 76-year-old Josephine Fay of Weymouth, officials said. All three were sitting in the rear bench seat of the minivan at the time of the crash and were pronounced dead at the scene, said Lieutenant Kim Montes, a Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman.
Another member of the family, Jaxon Smith, 11, was airlifted to a local hospital. Montes said in an e-mail late Wednesday afternoon that he had also died.
Two other family members, Shane Smith, 43, and William Fay, 76, were in stable condition at the Orlando Regional Medical Center, according to police. Two additional family members were uninjured. They were identified as 10-year-old Shalie Smith and 5-year-old Skylar Smith.
The crash took place on a toll highway where the speed limit is 70 miles per hour, Montes said. At the time of the crash, Montes said, the minivan was slowing due to rush-hour traffic congestion.
She said the operator of the pickup truck, 26-year-old Lucas Dos Reis Laurindo, was traveling at “highway speed” when he slammed into the back of the minivan, caromed into a second vehicle, and then scratched a third.
“The impact was at full speed,” she said. “The van overturned on its side."
Montes, who responded to the scene Tuesday night, said Laurindo was “distraught” and that he voluntarily provided a blood sample that authorities will test for alcohol or other substances that impair drivers. However, she said, impairment is not believed to be a factor in the crash.
Laurindo obtained his Florida’s driver license last November and was driving a company pickup at the time of the crash, Montes said. He has no prior traffic citations and does not have a criminal record in Florida, according to state records.
Montes said Laurindo may face charges, but that decision won’t be made for several weeks while crash experts at the Florida Highway Patrol conduct a detailed investigation that includes examining data recorders in the vehicles and testing Laurindo’s blood sample.
In the meantime, Laurindo will be allowed to drive, she said, although it was not yet clear if the pickup truck is still operable.
Laurindo and the operators of the other two vehicles were uninjured, police said
Police said everyone but Shane Smith was wearing seat belts or child restraints at the time of the crash.
The van was pushed into the vehicle in front of it, which in turn struck the fourth vehicle, police said.
Laurindo and the operators of the other two vehicles were uninjured, police said.
Julie and Shane Smith lived with their children in a Colonial style home on Little Comfort Circle in Whitman.
Julie Smith was a director of training at Liberty Mutual in Boston, a company spokesperson confirmed.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragedy involving the Smith family,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to the Globe. "Julie was a cherished employee and greatly touched the lives of all her colleagues. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Julie’s family and friends during this incredibly difficult time.”
Mike Finn, a friend of the family, said William Fay suffered a dislocated shoulder in the crash and Shane Smith was badly bruised. According to Finn, Fay said the crash “happened so quick, shockingly fast ... and then it was over.”