Community Grieves I-75 Crash Victims

A majority of the victims in the crash on I-75 on Thursday were in a church passenger van from Marksville, Louisiana.

Tv20 spoke on the phone with a District Attorney from Marksville who is coordinating with the victims' families.

Charles Riddle says the past 24 hours have been some of the hardest he has ever encountered as he has been trying to help families not only grieve the loss of their loved ones but also work with Florida Highway Patrol to confirm who was injured and who did not survive.

"I haven't gone anywhere today without anybody asking about it and that's eating lunch, at the courthouse just walking on the street."

With only a population of 6500, almost everybody in Marksville knows somebody who was either injured or killed in Thursday's accident.
Riddle said "most of them were from Marksville but some of them were outside the Marksville area but they basically were from one particular church. It seems like there's a connection to everybody. When there are so many people involved it seems like everybody has someone they knew or a family member in the crash so the effect on this area is devastating."
Superintendent of the Avoyelles Parish School Board said "it's been tough. When you're a small community. everybody knows everybody and so it's been a really hard day around here."

The church had been planning the Disney trip for some time and the excitement when they left is part of what makes the loss of so many so difficult said, Riddle.
"I know that those people in that church were very excited about going, I mean they were ecstatic. I was told some of them couldn't even sleep the night before that's how excited they were. It's tragic, they wanted to enjoy themselves."

Many families traveled to Gainesville to visit those injured in the hospital. Others flew in Friday morning and one family who didn't have the money to make the trip was even flown privately by someone with a plane. For anyone who would like to help the affected families, there is a go fund me account to help pay for travel expenses and more.
Riddle explained "I know there's a go fund me account for those that don't have access to resources or contact of the local church all of those are ways people can assist. It's going to be tragic and some of them don't even have the resources to pay for funeral expenses so all of that is going to be an area where people can assist."

Riddle said the outpouring of support not only from his own community but especially those here in Gainesville trying to find any way to help the families has been incredible. If you'd like to extend a helping hand you can find the link to the go fund me account provided below.