Flames engulf a big rig that crashed into a van carrying children headed to Walt Disney World near Gainesville, FL.
Photo: Associated Press.

Joe Fried of Fried Rogers Goldberg LLC, is representing the family of a teen who was killed in a multi-vehicle crash on January 3rd. The fiery collision claimed the lives of seven people, including five children who were en route to Walt Disney World with a church group.

Fried filed a lawsuit on behalf of the surviving parents of 14-year-old Jeremiah Warren, who was traveling with 11 other passengers from Avoyelles House of Mercy Parish of Pineville, Louisiana. Their 2006 Chevy Van was struck when an oncoming tractor-trailer veered over the center divide.

The truck’s driver, Steve Holland, was driving northbound on Interstate 75 near Gainesville when his truck drifted left for unknown reasons. His tractor trailer collided with a northbound Honda to his left, sending both vehicles over the center median and into oncoming southbound traffic. Holland’s truck hit the van carrying the church group before crashing into another tractor trailer. Both the van and second truck burst into flames, with the van rolling multiple times and ejecting several passengers.

Four other children between the ages of 9 and 14 died in the crash, all from the same van carrying Warren. Holland and the other truck driver, Douglas Bolkema, also died at the scene.

Fried filed the suit in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Holland’s place of residence, and ordered an investigation into the driving records for both truckers and big rigs involved in the crash. Fried believes a prompt filing will help ensure that pertinent details surrounding the wreck are gathered to support his client’s case.

Driver negligence is at the center of concerns surrounding the horrific crash. Holland, who last worked for a mail carrier service known as Eagle Express Lines, is reported to have a tarnished driving history that includes numerous citations between 2000 and 2014 across five states. A few of his offenses included speeding, driving an unsafe vehicle, overloading his truck and failing to carry proof of insurance.

The lawsuit is filed against Holland, Eagle Express Lines, New Prime, Inc. and Robyn Rattray, the driver of the Honda. Fried has plans to sue Holland’s estate to recover damages for Warren’s parents.

One of the five children who passed was the granddaughter of the pastor at Avoyelles House of Mercy.

“It’s a huge tragedy for so many people. We’re letting everybody grieve,” said Fried.

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