For many, Easter is a time to reflect on one of the most profound stories in religion. It is also a time for many to get together with family, friends and celebrate. Unfortunately, for a group of unsuspecting churchgoers, this Easter was marred by tragedy as a car crashed through the wall of the church at the beginning of the service.
As individuals were settling into the pews at Second Haitian Baptist Church in Fort Myers, Florida, on Sunday evening, what is being called “an unfortunate traffic accident” was looming right outside. A woman driving a 2006 Lexus sedan was allegedly looking for a parking spot just before the incident occurred. As 200 church parishioners waited for the Easter service to begin noise of a loud crash filled the building and a car came through one of the sanctuary walls. Twenty-0ne people have been reported injured, some seriously, as authorities attempt to figure out exactly what happened.
Hundreds had packed into the pews of the Second Haitian Baptist Church in Fort Myers, Florida, as 31-year-old Marie Ange Masson, who was alone in her car, combed the church’s parking lot for a suitable spot. It appears she may have found a space and was about to pull in when the car overshot its target. The Lexus, which is now believed to have suffered brake failure, crashed through a giant window in the middle of the single-story church wall. Directly in the line of fire on the other side of the wall were pews holding some 30 to 40 people.
Police arrived on the scene just before 8 p.m. By that time churchgoers had wrangled car jacks and were attempting to lift the car off of several people who were stuck underneath. One witness said “we start pulling people under the car… Some of them were hurt pretty bad. So we had to do what we had to do to take care of them.”
EMS personnel describing the incident said “It just obliterated the pews that were there.” Out of the 200 in attendance, 21 were treated for injuries as a result of the Easter car crash.
At one point, it was reported that up to 11 ambulances were at the scene of the crash. Eighteen of the injured were taken to various local hospitals, with three being children. Four out of the 21 hurt were described as having suffered traumatic injuries. None of the victims of the crash are reported to need surgery, and 11 have already been discharged. Four remain in fair condition and one is listed in good condition. Police are now saying it is possible some of the injured who may have driven themselves to hospitals without reporting to officials at the scene may not have been accounted for.
As of yet there have been no criminal charges brought against Masson for the Easter car crash. According to Lt. Victor Medico, Masson claims to have suffered brake failure just prior to the incident. Medico stated: “… the investigation is being treated as a very unfortunate accident.”
By Josh Taub