5 die, 10 critically hurt in minivan rollover

/ Source: The Associated Press

A minivan packed with children blew a tire, clipped a delivery truck and rolled on a Louisiana interstate Saturday, killing five people and critically injuring another 10, state police said.

Thirteen children who had been riding without seatbelts were thrown from the van, including four of the dead who were found in the median of Interstate 10 near Baton Rouge, Louisiana State Police said. All the dead and injured were in the GMC Safari minivan.

The van didn’t have enough seatbelts for the 13, Louisiana State Police spokesman Russell Graham said. The driver, who was killed, and a front-seat passenger appear to have been the only ones wearing seatbelts.

The crash occurred after the tire blew out on the van’s front driver side, Lt. Doug Cain said. The van then hit the delivery truck traveling in the same direction, rolled about 200 feet across the median and landed on its tires in the oncoming lanes. No other vehicles were involved.

Some in the van were family members from Harvey, La., which is about 75 miles southeast of the crash site, Graham said. The van was headed west on I-10, but Graham did not know where it was going.

“The Louisiana Legislature just passed a law making it mandatory to wear seatbelts in both the front and back seats,” Graham said. “This is a good illustration of why they did.”

The 10 survivors were in critical condition Saturday afternoon at two Baton Rouge hospitals, Graham said.

Alcohol was not suspected to have been a factor in the crash, police said.

The driver of the truck managed to steer to the side of the road and was not injured.

The interstate was closed in both directions for about three hours Saturday afternoon.

No identities were immediately released. It wasn’t immediately clear why the van full of children was on the highway.