CALHOUN, LOUISIANA — Five Texas family members, including three young children, have been killed after their vehicle veered off a highway and overturned in northeastern Louisiana while en-route to Disney World in Florida, state police said on Thursday. Three others survived.
The accident happened west of Calhoun in Ouachita Parish when a 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe, driven by a 16-year-old juvenile, veered off Interstate 20 and entered the median. “After entering the median, the driver over-corrected and the vehicle began to rollover,” Louisiana State Police spokesman Michael Reichardt said.
Six occupants who were not wearing a seatbelt were ejected from the vehicle, killing three children, ages 4, 7, and 15, and two adults, identified as Michael and Trudi Hardman. The other person who was ejected plus a seventh occupant were both taken to local hospitals with moderate injuries. The 16-year-old driver, who was properly restrained, suffered only minor injuries.
The Hardman family was traveling from Texas to Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, for a family vacation, state police said.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to all of the people affected by this tragic crash,” Louisiana State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson said. “In an instance this family vacation turned into an unspeakable tragedy. I cannot stress enough the importance of wearing a seatbelt anytime you are in a vehicle.”
Troopers suspect the driver may have fallen asleep prior to the crash and impairment is not suspected, but a toxicology sample was obtained from the driver as required by law.