A 5-year-old girl, an 11-year-old boy and two other members of a family visiting Florida from Massachusetts were killed in a four-vehicle crash on Tuesday evening.
Police said 5-year-old Scarlett Smith and her mother, Julie Smith, 41 — both of Whitman — were killed in the crash, along with Scarlett's grandmother, Josephine Fay, 76, of Weymouth. Eleven-year-old Jaxon Smith was flown to a hospital in critical condition and was later pronounced dead.
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Two other children — Shalie Smith, 10, and Skyler Smith, 5 — were not injured in the crash, but were taken to the hospital for monitoring.
Driver Shane Smith, 43, and passenger William Fay, 76, were taken to an Orlando hospital in stable condition.
As of Tuesday night, the boy was still on life support and unresponsive, according to Lt. Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol. All other injuries were considered non-life-threatening.
All eight members of the family were traveling just south of Disney World in Kissimmee, near Orlando, when their van was hit by a truck at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Troopers said traffic was beginning to slow on Route 429 when a pickup truck driven by a 26-year-old Florida man hit the van from behind, sending it onto its side and into two other cars.
Investigators said everyone in the van appeared to be from the same Massachusetts family.
"I think everybody is just in shock any time kids are involved," Montes said. "The troopers that called me and told me about it were very upset because kids were involved."
Charges are pending against the driver of the pickup truck, Lucas Dos Reis Laurindo, 26, of Kissimmee, according to police. The investigation is ongoing.
Sheila Howard has lived next to Fay and her husband for years.
"It's just so sad, so sad," she said Wednesday. "I think he'd be lost without her. It's so sad. Especially to see the baby. The baby had a whole life to live. It's just terrible."
“We just found out this morning ourselves. They’re a beautiful family, our hearts are broken, and we’ll do everything we can to support them in any way that we can,” said Darlene Staples, director of Mary Deb Childcare in Whitman.
Scarlett, her twin sister, her 10-year-old sister and her brother all attended Mary Deb Childcare.
Staples said the kids had been so excited to go to Disney World, talking about the trip non-stop.
She said they were, “full of life, they all were, they loved school, they loved their friends, they loved playing, so we’re just – I’m sorry – we’re just trying to deal with it right now.”
Whitman-Hanson School Superintendent Jeffrey Szymaniak said Jaxon is a sixth grader in the district. A fourth grader from the district was also involved but reportedly was not injured.
Counseling and administrative teams at the affected schools have been alerted of the incident and plans are in place to support students and staff, even as the district is on February break.
"This is a tragedy, and I believe I express the sentiments of all families, students and employees of the Whitman-Hanson Regional School District in saying that we mourn together during this incredibly difficult time," Szymaniak said, adding that "we will come together as a community to support each other and support our students who have suffered this terrible loss."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.