A limousine filled with students headed to prom night at Western High in Davie, Fla., stopped for a detour Saturday, after a Honda van hit a concrete wall and flipped in front of the limo. The van’s seven passengers had trouble getting out — until the limo’s driver and the students came to their aid.
The Honda Odyssey van went out of control and began swerving, Danny Izzi, who was at the wheel of the stretch Escalade, tells The Sun-Sentinel. After hitting the concrete barrier on Interstate 595 west of Fort Lauderdale, the van flipped onto its side and ground to a stop.
“I almost hit them,” Izzi says. “I had to slam on my brakes, but with 20 kids in there it’s really [difficult] to put the brakes on.”
Izzi and his passengers, dressed in formal dresses and tuxedos, realized that people were trapped in the van, yelling for help.
“Hold on, hold on, we’ll get you out,” he recalls yelling back.
The driver kicked at a back door until he could open it; a student climbed on top of the van and wrestled its sliding door open. Inside were five adults and two children, ages 2 and 9. All were pulled to safety.
“I was helping this little boy and was just trying to keep him calm,” Krista Pulcini, 17, tells The Sun-Sentinel. A video posted at the paper’s website shows the chaotic scene after the crash, with the van’s passengers obviously upset.
Emergency responders got to the scene within minutes, the newspaper reports; none of the passengers were found to have serious injuries. With the exception of the two-year-old, they had all been wearing seat belts.
The van’s driver, Karen Exalien, 28, faces charges of “failure to use due care and violation of a child restraint law,” The Sun-Sentinel reports.
In interviews, the students said that the event was “pretty traumatizing,” but they were also relieved that the van’s passengers were, for the most part, OK. They piled back into their limo, and continued on to the party that awaited them near the beach.
“I went to the prom and a lot of girls were helping me get the blood out of my dress, so it was good,” Pulcini says.