- Associated Press - Saturday, April 18, 2015

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) - Two members of a Haitian church remain hospitalized nearly three weeks after their overloaded van crashed in the dark on a rural road, killing eight members of the congregation.

A funeral for the eight victims was held Saturday in Fort Pierce, followed by burials at White City Cemetery.

The 15-passenger van was carrying 18 members of the Independent Haitian Assembly of God when it plunged into a ravine in the early morning hours of March 30 as the group was returning from a Palm Sunday service in Fort Myers.

The eight victims all were originally from Haiti and were long-time members of the Fort Pierce church.

The driver, 58-year-old Volsaint Marsaille, was the church’s regular driver as well as a school bus driver for the St. Lucie County School District. Servilus Dieudonne, 71, was traveling with his wife and 4-year-old granddaughter, who both survived the crash. Jude Petit-Frere, 66, died with his 58-year-old wife, Obernise Petit-Frere. Dazilia Joseph, 79, Madeleine William, 63, Wanie Larose, 60, and Lifaite Lochard, 58, also were killed.

The church’s pastor was among 10 injured in the crash. The Tribune in Fort Pierce reports (https://bit.ly/1CYBU9S) that two survivors remain hospitalized: 89-year-old Innoncent Roseme and 44-year-old Clodette Fleurvil.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. Federal transportation officials have warned about the potential instability of 15-passenger vans for over a decade. Colleges and church groups, among others, have been warned that overloading the vans increases the risk of rollover and makes the vehicles difficult to maneuver in emergencies.

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Information from: The (Fort Pierce, Fla.) Tribune, https://www.stluciecounty.com

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