ORLANDO — The driver of a pickup truck involved in a horrific crash here that killed four members of a vacationing Massachusetts family, including a 5-year-old girl and her 11-year-old brother, will “be charged with something,” a law enforcement official said Thursday, although it’s unclear what.
“We’re kind of just in investigation mode,” Florida Highway Patrol Lieutenant Kim Montes, a department spokeswoman, said in an interview. “I know it’s hard for a lot of people, especially the family, is he going to be charged? He will be charged with something, but it’s really just too early to say.”
Such investigations usually take about 180 days. No charges will be filed before the investigation is complete.
Montes previously said Lucas Dos Reis Laurindo was “distraught” at the scene of Tuesday’s crash and voluntarily provided a blood sample that authorities will test for alcohol or other substances. But impairment is not believed to be a factor in the crash, she said.
The Smith family had traveled from Whitman, a town south of Boston, to visit Disney World. Two children — 11-year-old Jaxon and 5-year-old Scarlett —were killed in the collision, as were their mother, Julie Smith, 41, and grandmother, Josephine Fay, 76.
In an e-mail Thursday afternoon, family friend Mike Finn said Shane Smith, the children’s father, and William Fay, their grandfather, described the accident as “shockingly fast.”
“[T]hey don’t believe there was any suffering,” the e-mail said, “which gave them some solace.”
The Smith and Fay families also released a statement through Finn, saying they “greatly appreciate the outpouring of support and prayers as we process the events of this horrific tragedy. We are truly heartbroken.”
The e-mail thanked those who have helped in the aftermath of the crash.
“Among the many individuals, groups, and organizations who have assisted during this difficult time, we wanted to highlight the efforts of the first responders in Orlando, the medical staff at the Orlando Regional Medical Center and the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, Disney, JetBlue, TSA, and the Massachusetts State Police,” the family wrote. “We also want to thank the Hartman Family who assisted in Orlando. We continue to grieve for the loss of our loved ones. Thank you for your outpouring of kindness.”
The crash happened around 5:30 p.m. along a stretch of State Road 429 in Kissimmee, about 10 miles from Disney World. The Toyota van was carrying eight family members — Shane and Julie Smith; Julie’s parents, Josephine and William Fay of Weymouth; and the Smiths’ four young children. Scarlett’s twin sister and older sister, 10, survived.
When their vehicle slowed because of congestion on the highway, a pickup truck slammed into its rear end, caromed into a second vehicle, and scratched a third, Montes said.
Officials have identified Laurindo as the pickup driver. He does not have a criminal record, authorities said. He could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
On Thursday, the Whitman-Hanson schools Superintendent Jeffrey Szymaniak announced that crisis teams will be available to help grieving students.
At the Hanson Middle School — where Jaxon Smith attended sixth grade — counselors and support staff will be available on Friday from 10 a.m. to noon “for parents who feel their children need support,” school officials said in a statement.
School officials said school psychologists, adjustment counselors, grief counselors, nurses, and administrators will provide assistance to students as needed, and mental health counselors will be available Monday and “throughout the days and months ahead.”
“When a sudden tragedy such as this occurs, children need the support of caring adults to help them make sense of their loss, to support them in their grief, and to encourage their use of healthy and adaptive coping strategies,” Szymaniak said. “Parents should know that help is available for all children during this very difficult time.”
School officials said the Whitman Youth Soccer Association has organized a community gathering for the Smith family on Friday at 7 p.m. at Whitman Middle School’s fenced-in soccer field. Community members from Whitman and Hanson are encouraged to attend.
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