SUWANEE, Ga. (AP) — A vehicle on a Georgia interstate unexpectedly changed lanes ahead of a van that went out of control, rolled onto its side and slid across two lanes, bursting into flames and killing six women inside, authorities said Wednesday.
Gwinnett County police released their initial accident report and identified the victims killed in the Saturday wreck, many of whom were part of a sober living community called We Are Living Proof.
“We ask that you join us in prayer for the families and loved ones of the ladies we lost as well as the survivors,” the organization said on its Facebook page.
Flames grew rapidly as bystanders tried to save the motorists from the burning passenger van, witnesses recounted later. At least one motorist kicked out a windshield of the van in the frantic effort to rescue those inside.
“There’s somebody trapped in there and it’s on fire and there’s all kind of people trying to get them out,” a caller told a dispatcher in 911 recordings released Wednesday.
Ten injured survivors of the crash were taken to hospitals. The women killed were all from Georgia and ranged in age from 26 to 53.
Among them was Alishia Carroll of Columbus, a 34-year-old mother of four who had recently decided to get help for her addiction problems, family members said. The van was carrying the women to a treatment recovery meeting, relatives told WXIA-TV.
“She was finally trying to get good for herself and good for kids and God just wanted to take her home,” Carroll’s oldest child, Kylie Mitchell, told the Atlanta station.
Others killed were Kristie Whitfield, 44, of Mount Airy, Georgia; Tina Rice, 53, of Atlanta; Normisha Monroe, 38, of Norcross, Georgia; and Rose Patrick, 34, of Ellabell, Georgia, police said.
The vehicle seen changing lanes ahead of the 2002 Dodge Ram passenger van did not remain at the scene, police said in their report.
Police are seeking more information from anyone who witnessed the crash, which happened on Interstate 85 about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northeast of downtown Atlanta.
“I need to know what caused the accident,” Steve Paris told WSB-TV. His daughter, Ashleigh Paris, 26, of Kennesaw, was among those killed.
“I need closure for my baby girl,” he said. “She was daddy’s little girl.”