Deadly van crash: Authorities begin identifying 6 victims

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Gwinnett County accident investigators are in the process of trying to identify all of the victims in a deadly van crash this weekend.

A van loaded with 16 people headed to a sobriety awards ceremony flipped and caught fire Saturday night on I-85, near the I-985 split.

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Ten people, including the driver, escaped. Six were killed in the wreckage.

Channel 2 Action News has learned that one of the victims was Alishia Carroll. Police have not released the other victims’ identities.

Channel 2′s Tony Thomas talked to Carroll’s mother and sister.

Her mother, Wanda Garza, said she was going to rehab to get her life back. Instead, she lost her life.

“She was getting ready to go to her meeting and that was the very last picture she took,” Garza said.

Garza said Carroll was a mother of four who was battling a drug addiction and had just arrived at the facility last week. Police said the van was headed to a group meeting.

Investigators are combing the burned-out van for clues, and they are asking anyone who saw the crash to come forward.

“We believe there are people who witnessed this accident, and without them coming forward, it is going to be very difficult for our investigators to put together what really happened,” Collin Flynn with Gwinnett County Police said.

That includes potentially tracking down a white truck witnesses said cut in front of the van just before the accident.

Natasha Duarte, Carroll’s sister, said anyone involved should come forward.

“If the guy who actually caused the accident would come forward and take responsibility for his actions, that would be even better,” Duarte said. “He changed six families forever.”

Investigators are expected to release the names of the other victims some time Tuesday.

Ten more people are recovering from the accident. It’s unclear what their conditions are.

Authorities are still trying to identify the rest of the victims and notify their family. Some are still trying to figure out which hospitals the survivors wound up in.

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Witnesses described trying to help pull people from the burning van.

“The van was leaking fuel. The fire was just growing so fast,” said Donnie Richeson. “The fire was doubling itself every second it seemed like.”

Police hope to release the names of those involved Tuesday.

Witnesses said a white car may have cut off the van. Investigators are looking into that and asking anyone with possible information to call them.

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