- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

COMMERCE, Ga. (AP) — Three people were killed and eight others injured when a van carrying members of two heavy metal bands careened off an interstate and down an embankment in northeast Georgia on Monday, authorities said.

The 15-passenger van was carrying 12 people from South Carolina toward Atlanta when it went off Interstate 85 near the town of Commerce about 7 a.m. Monday, the Georgia State Patrol said.

Authorities have confirmed three deaths, Georgia State Patrol Capt. Mark Perry told The Associated Press.

Eight others were injured, the Georgia Department of Public Safety said in a statement late Monday morning. Their conditions weren’t available.

The van’s driver “apparently fell asleep and allowed the vehicle to leave the roadway, at which time the vehicle struck a tree on the passenger side,” Georgia State Patrol Cpl. Scott Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The occupants of the van were members of two heavy metal bands that were traveling together and pulling a trailer with the musicians’ equipment, Smith told the Atlanta newspaper.

“We cannot confirm the name of the bands or passengers at this time,” Franka Young of the Department of Public Safety said in the statement sent at 11:30 a.m. Monday.

The van’s driver was not injured, Young said, adding that families of those involved were still being notified.

The crash happened about 65 miles northeast of Atlanta. It caused traffic to back up in the area along the interstate, a key route between Georgia and the Carolinas, said Teri Pope, a spokeswoman with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

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