On Tuesday, at the intersection of Grand and New York Avenues in DeLand, a car accident occurred that resulted in the deaths of a woman and three young girls. Sandra Lopes, the grandmother of two of the children, was driving her Jeep Wrangler with Aryana, 2, Jadyn, 4, and another girl, Aleah, when they reached the intersection. As they sat in Grand Avenue’s northbound lane, a Ford SUV, driven by DeLand resident Alan Seidel, 64, crossed the road. The two vehicles collided in the intersection, causing the Jeep, with everyone inside, to flip over.
For a few moments, the Jeep remained upside down, and Barbara Burch, a witness of the accident, said that she could hear the sound of children crying coming from inside the vehicle. Then the Wrangler caught fire. Burch says that the car “was down to a frame in a matter of seconds.”
Seidel, who possibly already has three DUI arrests on his record, is not believed to have been under the influence of any substances during the accident. He also sustained no serious injuries as a result of the accident.
Another vehicle, a Dodge Pickup, was involved in a collision with the Ford SUV at the intersection, but there were no injuries sustained by the woman driving it.
At the moment, no official charges have been brought forward against Seidel. Local residents have long decried the intersection, citing it as a highly dangerous crossing that would benefit greatly from a traffic light. Ben Johnson, the Volusia County Sheriff, says that the idea of the light has been discussed among officials, but that now, in the wake of this ghastly event, he is “going to write a letter saying it needs to be looked at.” He went on to call the incident, “a real tragedy,” and said, “we’ve got to do something.”
The girls and their grandmother leave behind them several grieving families who have come forward to express their love and their deep sorrow. They have also set up fundraising pages to pay for the burial expenses.
It is a difficult fact to grapple with, but the sorts of financial obligations that arise after unexpected deaths can quickly become overwhelming and debilitating.
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James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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