- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 25, 2006

LAKE BUTLER, Fla. (AP) — Seven children who had been adopted by a single family were killed yesterday in a fiery crash when their car was crushed between a truck and a stopped school bus in rural northern Florida.

The children, ranging in age from 15 years to 21 months, were headed toward their home about two miles north of the crash site. The truck hit them from behind, pushing their car into the bus and causing the car to burst into flames, police said.

Everyone in the car was killed, including the 15-year-old girl who was driving illegally. All the youths had been adopted by the same family and lived together, police said.

Evidence from the scene showed that the truck, which was carrying bottled water, did not brake before hitting the car on the two-lane road, said Lt. Mike Burroughs of the Florida Highway Patrol.

The Union County School District bus ended up 200 feet from where the car struck it, and the cab of the truck lay overturned near the scene, Lt. Burroughs said. The bus was at an approved bus stop.

“It’s a very chaotic scene,” Lt. Burroughs said. “It’s just a mangled, charred mess.”

Nine students were on the bus, and three were thrown from the vehicle by the force of the crash. But the extent of their injuries was also unclear.

State police said three were seriously hurt and six others sustained minor injuries. Hospital officials said two were in critical condition and three were in serious condition.

The drivers of the bus and the truck were also taken to a hospital. The truck driver sustained minor injuries, and authorities planned to interview him. The bus driver was thrown from the vehicle, and her condition was not immediately known.

The car was driven by 15-year-old Nicki Mann, who was with siblings Elizabeth Mann, 15; Johnny Mann, 13; Heaven Mann, 3; Ashley Kenn, 13; Miranda Finn, who was either 8 or 9 years old; and Anthony Lamb, who was almost two years old.

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