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The Latest: Pastor IDs victims in fiery Maryland crash

November 9, 2015

HYATTSVILLE, Md. (AP) — The latest on a fiery crash involving a pickup truck and a church van that killed five people (all times local):

5 p.m.

The pastor of a church whose van was involved in a fiery crash outside Washington says the three passengers killed were a married couple in their 70s and a 6-year-old girl.

Jose Santos Jimenez is pastor of Iglesia Ministerio de Dios Unido, a small, evangelical congregation in Hyattsville, Maryland. The victims in the crash Sunday evening were on their way to a service at the church when a pickup truck crossed the center line of a busy four-lane road, crashed into the church van and burst into flames. The pickup truck driver also died.

Santos says through a Spanish language translator that he rushed to the hospital after getting word of the crash and he spent most of Sunday night and all of Monday visiting with the injured members of his congregation. A pregnant woman also lost her baby in the crash, bringing the death toll to five. Fourteen people suffered injuries of varying severity.

Santos identified the married couple killed as Santiago Merche and his wife, Elba Merche. He said they were natives of El Salvador.

4 p.m.

Police say the death toll from a crash involving a church van outside Washington has risen to five because a woman in the late stages of pregnancy lost her unborn baby as a result of the crash.

Prince George’s County police spokeswoman Julie Parker said Monday that one child and two adults in the van were killed in Sunday’s crash, along with the driver of a pickup truck that crashed into the van. Fourteen people were injured.

Parker says the pregnant woman who lost her baby survived. She says it was a “late-term pregnancy,” although she did not specify how far along the baby was in its development.

Parker says the pickup truck driver hit a car and kept going. She says the driver then crossed the center lines of a busy street, and the van driver had no time to react.


3 p.m.

Officials say one of those injured in a fiery crash near the nation’s capital is a pregnant woman whose fetus did not survive.

The Prince George’s County Police Department says four people died and 14 people were hurt in Sunday’s collision involving a pickup truck, a car and a church van. In a news release Monday, the department says one of the survivors from the van was a pregnant woman who was seriously hurt and had to have emergency surgery.

The pickup’s driver and three people in the van, including a child, died at the scene. The conditions of 13 people from the van range from minor to critical. The car’s driver suffered minor injuries.

Police say a preliminary investigation determined the pickup truck first hit the car and then fled. According to the release, the pickup’s driver then lost control, crossed the center line and struck the van.


2 p.m.

A church co-pastor says the people in a van involved in a fiery crash were headed from Washington to an evening service in the suburbs.

The collision with a pickup truck Sunday in Hyattsville killed three adults and a child and injured more than a dozen people.

Roberto Gonzalez of Iglesia Ministerio de Dios Unidos in Riverdale tells The Washington Post that when the church-provided van did not arrive at its usual time, hymns had ended and senior pastor Jose Santos Jimenez rose to preach. But the senior pastor got a phone call before he could begin, and authorities told church leaders of the crash.

Gonzalez says the church was formed almost two years ago and has about 45 members, mostly immigrants from El Salvador and Honduras.

The crash occurred about four miles from the church.


1 p.m.

An official says the van involved in a fiery crash with a pickup truck that killed four people and injured 14 others belongs to a small church congregation.

Scott Peterson, a spokesman for Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, said Monday that the church is Iglesia Ministerio de Dios Unido in Riverdale. He says the “very young” church has a small congregation, and most of the members are Latino. He says the county’s Latino liaison is assisting. Peterson also says the Mexican embassy already has contacted the county to find out if any of the people involved are Mexican nationals.

Baker says county officials are “deeply disturbed” by the tragedy and are looking into what happened.

Baker says he expects to receive a briefing on the incident later in the day.


12:05 p.m.

A Prince George’s County public schools spokeswoman says two of the children injured in a fiery crash involving a pickup truck and a church van are county elementary school students.

Sherrie Johnson says counselors will be on hand at the schools on Monday.

Johnson says one child, who is in critical condition, is a third-grader at Ridgecrest Elementary School in Hyattsville. The other hospitalized student attends Thomas Stone Elementary School in Mount Rainier. She did not know the second child’s condition or grade.

Four people died in the crash. Five children and eight adults were hurt and are being treated at hospitals.

Prince George’s County authorities say the van, which was used by a church, collided with the pickup that crossed into its path.


11:55 a.m.

A crash that killed four people and injured more than a dozen others occurred on a busy, four-lane road in the suburbs of Washington.

The road in Hyattsville where Sunday’s collision took place has a double-yellow line and no dividing barriers. A pickup truck and a large passenger van that collided came to rest in front of a two-story brick house with three cars parked in front.

Charred debris is strewn Monday morning on the sidewalk, along the curb and in the small front yard of the house, less than 20 feet from the front door. A man who answered the door declined to comment.

Prince George’s County authorities say the van, which was used by a church, collided with the pickup that crossed into its path. The pickup truck burst into flames. A child is among the dead and authorities say the conditions of the survivors range from critical to fair.


11:35 a.m.

Five children are being treated at a hospital in Washington after a pickup truck collided with a church van in the Maryland suburbs of the nation’s capital, killing four people.

Emily Hartman, a spokeswoman for Children’s National Medical Center, said Monday morning that two children are in critical condition and three are in fair condition.

A spokeswoman at MedStar Washington Hospital Center says eight adults are being treated there. Their conditions are not available.

The crash occurred Sunday evening in Hyattsville. Prince George’s County fire department spokesman Mark Brady says authorities believe the pickup rear-ended a car before going several hundred feet farther up the road, losing control and crossing the center line into the path of the van. Brady says the van struck the pickup on the right side, and the pickup subsequently caught fire.


Associated Press writers Ben Nuckols in Hyattsville, Maryland, Brian Witte in Annapolis, Maryland, and Sarah Brumfield in Washington contributed to this report.