Image From ..bradenton.com
Three people were killed and at least five more were injured Sunday after an elderly woman accidentally backed into a crowd of people while leaving church, authorities said.
The crash happened late Sunday morning in the Sugar Creek Country Club 55-and-over mobile home community in East Bradenton, FL.
Witnesses said the driver, 79-year-old Doreen Landstra appeared to think she put her large Chevrolet sport utility vehicle in "drive," but instead shifted into reverse and traveled backward through the clubhouse parking lot and into the crowd.
Bay News 9 reported that Johanna Dijkhoff, 80, died at the scene. Wilhemina Paul, 70 and Margaret Vanderlaan, 72, were both taken to Blake Medical Center where they later died.
Some residents heard screams, while others saw the accident unfold. Jan Verstveg said he watched as Landstra reversed into the crowd.
"She was just backing out, made a turn coming this way, and then she was going to go ahead and go out and I guess she didn't put it in forward - in drive - and she stepped on the gas and she went the same way," said Verstveg.
Landstra told us she was pulling out of a parking spot when, "somehow the pedal got stuck" as she reversed in to a crowd of people. She said, "it was all a terrible accident."
"We were just standing here talking for a few minutes, you know you see new friends and all that," said Verstveg.
She drove into and through the pedestrians, then kept going until her vehicle went into a creek, witnesses said.
Verstveg said the one of the victims was a woman originally from the Netherlands. "The lady who died, I knew her," Verstveg said. "I was just talking to her and she died just seconds later."
Verstveg said in the last conversation he had with the woman, she talked about how she was having a great time visiting the U.S.
The four other victims are listed in serious condition. They are 67-year-old Nelly Depooter, 75-year-old Nellie Vlasma, 89-year-old Fred Eringa, and 71-year-old Michael Claus.
The driver of the crash was interviewed by investigators and left the scene with her family. She and her husband, who was a passenger in the car at the time, were not seriously hurt.
Perhaps when events such as this occur, the state should mandate testing for physical and mental capability with a road test before one is permitted to drive again... What do you think?