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NTSB: "Medical incapacitation" of truck driver led to 2019 Florida crash that killed Marksville children

Posted at 3:44 PM, May 27, 2021

The National Transportation Safety Boardreported Thursday that medical incapacitation of a truck driver led to the fatal 2019 crash that left five Marsksville children dead.

The fiery crash happened in Florida on Janauary 3, 2019, and the children were on their way to Disney World. The children who died were Joel Cloud, 14; Jeremiah Warren, 14; Cara Descant, 13; Briena Descant, 10; and Cierra Bordelan, 9. All were from Marksville. They were in a church van headed to the theme park when the accident happened near Gainesville.

In a preliminary report, the NTSB stated that a tractor-trailer rig traveling north hit an Acura sedan also traveling north. The rig crashed into a median barrier, crossed the median and hit the van in which the children were riding – which was southbound.

On Thursday May 27, 2021, The NTSB released their final report which states that the truck driver's incapacitation resulted in his failure to maintain his travel lane and led to the truck crossing the highway’s center median and colliding with several vehicles in the opposite lanes of travel.

They report that evidence from the roadway, dashboard camera and witness interviews suggest the driver did not attempt evasive action as the truck veered across the median and into oncoming traffic. The crash resulted in seven fatalities and injuries to eight others. The crash involved five vehicles.

Autopsy results identified “ischemic heart disease” as a contributing factor in the truck driver’s cause of death, however, the truck driver had a number of medical conditions and used medication that could also have caused incapacitation, a report notes.

The NTSB says that during his most recent medical certification examination, the driver did not disclose all his medical conditions nor all the medications he was taking. The failure to disclose his conditions to medical examiners led to his receipt of medical certifications valid for the maximum of two years each.

NTSB investigators say that had the driver disclosed his relevant health information it may have resulted in a shorter medical certification period, but it would not have predicted his incapacitation on the day of the crash.

NTSB investigators determined the Eagle Express truck, a 2016 Freightliner with a 2018 Vanguard semitrailer, had no apparent defects that would have led to the crash. Analysis of maintenance records and a search of the safety recall database and related records showed no factors relevant to the events in this crash.

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