A bad tire likely caused a violent crash of a minivan and SUV on Interstate 95 near Jupiter that left six people dead and three injured, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The six people killed — four of whom were young siblings whose mother was driving — were all inside the minivan.
The tragedy unfolded around 9:30 Saturday night in the southbound lanes of I-95 near Indiantown Road, not far from where the Miami Marlins play their home spring training games.
FHP Sgt. Mark Wysocky said Sunday that the driver of the minivan, 33-year-old Heidi Solis-Perez, lost control of the 2001 Mercury Villager because of a “tread separation.”
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The minivan hit a highway wall, bounced off and then crossed into the path of an oncoming Kia Sorrento, driven by Sharwen Louis, 21.
Louis suffered minor injuries. Solis-Perez, who is from Stuart, was taken to Delray Medical Center in serious condition. One of her daughters, Daisy Julian-Solis, 11, is in serious condition.
Four of her children, Sandy Julian-Solis, 17; Macareo Julian-Solis, 14; Alexander Julian-Solis, 7, and Marillany Julian-Solis, 5, were killed. Also killed: Andres Perez, 18 and Reynaldo Diaz, 31.
“There were so many first responders there trying to save those children,” Christine Weiss, spokeswoman for the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, told the Palm Beach Post. “They did the best that they could.”
The road was closed for hours after the crash, Wysocky said.
“There was extensive damage to both cars,” he said. “This is going to be a long investigation.”
Wysocky said investigators were trying to determine how many people were ejected from the van and how many were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.
“It’s tragic anytime you have kids involved,” he said. “But to lose four children in one crash is unimaginable.”