Fort Lauderdale, FL Two Vans Collide, Dec 1994



Fort Lauderdale - Six of seven family members heading home from a holiday outing were killed when a van slammed into theirs in a rain-slicked intersection, Florida Highway Patrol investigators said.
A federal investigator was en route Friday to see whether a possible defect in Chrysler vans contributed to the deaths in the collision.
MARK ALEXANDER, 35, of Coconut Creek, survived the crash Thursday night that killed his wife, SHARON; their children, JIMMY, 5, and CAROLINE, 4; and three of MARK ALEXANDER'S children from a previous marriage, SARAH, 12; JAIME, 11, and AMANDA, 7. They lived with their aunt a few blocks from the intersection.
The impact with another van tore apart the right side and rear of the red minivan, throwing the five children out as the vehicle spun, the Florida Highway Patrol said. At least three were still strapped into a seat that flew out of the van.
SHARON ALEXANDER, 36, died at the scene, as did four of the five ALEXANDER children; JIMMY, CAROLINE, JAIME and SARAH. AMANDA was flown to Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, where she died at 4:30 a.m. Friday.
MARK ALEXANDER was in good condition Friday at North Broward Medical Center.
SCOT BRETT NAIDUS, 31, of Tamarac, driver of the white Dodge commercial van that hit the ALEXANDERS' vehicle, was in serious but stable condition at Broward General. NAIDUS was not up to being interviewed, a relative said late Friday.
An investigator from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was on his way to Florida on Friday, said spokesman Tim Hurd.
Just last month, the government reported rear lift gates in Chrysler minivans had popped open in 51 accidents, with 74 passengers thrown out and 25 deaths reported. Some people had been thrown out of the rear, some still in seats that also flew out.
If NAIDUS' van was traveling the speed limit, 45 mph, and did not brake before plowing into ALEXANDERS' van, the impact would have been
"significant" and could have been powerful enough by itself to tear the seat out, FHP Capt. Rich Rossman said.
Investigators said no evidence showed that either vehicle braked before the collision.
And officials could not say which of the two rear seats was thrown from the ALEXANDERS' van.
Friday, five members of Sarah Alexander's drill team at nearby Rickards Middle School were called out of class Friday morning and told their friend had died. They were allowed to go home for the day.
Friday afternoon they were out at the accident site, spray painting messages to their lost friend on a sheet of wood, decorated with a twig from a Christmas tree lot across the street, on a bus bench and all over the sidewalk.
"We (love) you forever," one message said. "See you in heaven."
"It made us feel better," Tiffany Howerin said.
"This is the only time today they have not been crying," said Linda Kirvjanik, one of the girls' mothers. "They were just sitting around the house. I said 'Let's just go there.'"
Amid the shards of plastic, glass and metal, one of the friends found one of Sarah's earrings in the street.

The Palm Beach Post Florida 1994-12-10