Seven remain hospitalized from Saturday church van rollover

4:59 PM, Sep 15, 2013   |    comments
A crew member from G&C Towing works to remove the van from Interstate 75 after the vehicle suffered a tire blowout. Fifteen passengers were transported to the hospital / Jack Hardman/news-press.com
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Survivors and family of the fifteen people who were injured in the rollover of a church van on I-75 on Saturday say area churches and others have provided food and other support following the tragic crash.

Seven of the injured remain at Lee Memorial Hospital, six critical and one fair. Mary Briggs, Lee Memorial spokesman, said all others have been transferred transferred or released.

The condition of an infant injured in the crash who was transferred to Tampa General Hospital was not available Sunday although a family member who was in thew van said the child is expected to recover.

"Local churches are holding prayers and family has pulled together," said Henoc Paulicin, senior pastor of Ambassador Church, which oversees Maranatha French, who was at Lee Memorial Sunday afternoon to pray with survivors.

"The church members and others from the community have come by," said Belinda Paulicin, the pastor's wife. "All the 7th-Day Adventist churches have poured in support and brought food and helped."

Pastor Paulicin said that beyond that not much else has been set up just yet. "At this time nothing has been prepared. We just want to be there for the families," he said.

Carine Celestin, 34, who was in the van that rolled Saturday but was not seriously injured, said the accident could have been much worse.

Her 10-month-old infant, Ruthamar Samie, was originally scheduled to go with her. She said she was supposed to bring her daughter but that after talking with her sister, and early in the morning when her husband told her it was time to go, she relented and let her sister take the child.

"I looked at my baby and I prayed. I said I really don't want her to go," Celestin said. "I told my sister I will leave her. I am so glad I did."

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