Church Van’s Tire Blowout Kills Three; How to Respond to a Blowout Safely

Three people, including two children, were killed when the Florida church van in which they were riding blew out a tire and crashed.

The van was carrying at least 10 parishioners from the Gospel of the Kingdom Church in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. The churchgoers were near Chipley, eastbound on Interstate 10 on their way to Tallahassee, when a rear tire blew out. The driver lost control of the van, which then rolled several times, ejecting several passengers. Two young victims and Patricia Baker, 58, were killed at the scene.

Walton County school superintendent Carlene Anderson described the community as very small and tight-knit, and said the deaths would have “a huge impact on everyone.”

The National Safety Commission says that top-heavy vehicles like vans and SUVs are far more prone to rollover than sedans and other vehicles that rest low to the ground. The commission provides the following procedure for handling a tire blowout:

Do not apply the brakes. Because one tire is completely deflated or even missing, braking will be uneven, making it more difficult to steer.

Focus on steering. Do not turn the wheel sharply. Make small adjustments.

Allow the car to slow down on its own, which should happen fairly rapidly with a blown tire.

Gently apply the brakes once you are in full control of the vehicle’s path.

Steer off the road, as long as doing so does not present a hazard. Turn on the vehicle’s hazard lights. After the vehicle comes to a full stop, only attempt to change the tire if you are able to do so without getting too close to the roadway. Do not attempt to drive on the wheel rims.

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