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By Alex Johnson

Three girls died and eight people were injured when an SUV carrying 11 people skidded off a busy highway in Florida on Monday night, authorities said.

The crash took place at around 6:30 p.m. ET on I-95 northbound in Titusville, about 40 miles east of Orlando. Helicopters and emergency crews from numerous agencies responded to the scene, which shut down all northbound lanes of the highway almost four hours.

The Dodge Durango was built to carry seven people, but 11 were inside it when it crashed Monday night north of Titusville, Florida.WESH-TV

Officials told NBC station WESH of Orlando that it appeared a tire malfunction had forced the driver to lose control of the white Dodge Durango. All of the car's occupants were family and friends, officials added.

Three girls were pronounced dead at the scene and eight people were taken to a hospital with serious injuries, according to WESH.

A toddler who'd been ejected from the car was among the injured. The little boy was found by rescue crews who heard him crying in the backyard of a home across the highway's barrier, Highway Patrol spokesman Steven Montiero said.

None of the victims' identities were made public Monday night. Authorities said they didn't yet know why 11 people were crammed into a vehicle designed to carry only seven.