FHP: Charges unlikely for driver in triple fatal crash

7:28 PM, Feb 3, 2014   |    comments
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The Florida Highway Patrol says a 79-year-old woman backed her car in a parking lot at the Sugar Creek Country Club, located inside a mobile home park where church services were taking place. She struck a crowd of pedestrians, killing three people and injuring four more.

 

Bradenton, Florida-A day later, the reminders remain. Tire marks in the muddy grass and a bouquet of flowers for those killed and injured at the Sugar Creek Country Club Sunday morning.

SEE ALSO: Deadly Bradenton accident rekindles elderly-driving debate 

"They are so torn up by the loss of life," says Joel Smitter, the son of the woman behind the wheel during a tragic accident Sunday. 

Smitter says his 79-year-old mother, Doreen Landstra, and 87-year-old father, Fred are in shock over Sunday's accident.

According to troopers, Doreen told them that as she tried backing up out of the parking space at church, her accelerator got stuck.

"She revved the engine again and as soon as the car did engage in gear, she flew backwards uncontrollably, striking 7, killing 3," said Trooper Kenn Watson with the Florida Highway Patrol.

"They're suffering immensely," said Joel. "They have no understanding how this happened. They're thinking its mechanical error."

FHP says before Sunday, Doreen's driving record in Florida was clean. 

"At this point we believe there will be no criminal charges," Trooper Watson told 10 News. 

But the outcome remains the same. 

"It's horrible for them. These people were their friends and church goers," Joel said.

According to Joel, his parents have lived at the Terra Ceia Village RV Resort in Palmetto since 1991 and attended the non-denominational church. At one time Doreen served as the music director at the church. 

They were "true Christians" he said. "People who love people, my father served in the war."

The Landstras have five children who now worry if their mother can survive what's happened. "We don't know how strong she is," said Joel.

The Landstras are too emotional to speak on camera, but Fred Landstra told 10 News they are very sorry for what happened. They say this is an accident and they ask for everyone to pray for the victims and pray for them.

"I hope and pray they can be forgiven for this horrible accident," Joel added.

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