Troopers: 4 dead in crash on I-4 in Polk

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Tuesday morning, 36-year-old Elma Gatcha was traveling along I-4 in Lakeland near the Memorial Boulevard exit with her 12-year-old little girl, Cassie Ann, in the car. The two were sitting side by side in a 4-door Nissan during the morning rush hour around 8 a.m. That’s when countless lives changed forever.

According to state troopers, a Ford F-250 was traveling at a high rate of speed begin racing the car next to it. The driver, 22-year-old Dustin Wayne Toole, lost control of the truck, veered across the median and barreled into oncoming traffic that was headed toward Tampa.

The truck would not stop, destroying cars in its path. FHP reports show, Toole hit a van head-on killing two people. Then, the pickup went airborne briefly and when it came down, it landed on the Nissan where Cassie Ann was sitting in the passenger seat. The 12-year-old died at the scene, while her mother is in critical condition.

Toole also died in the accident. He was not wearing his seatbelt, FHP says.

Witnesses were horrified and shaken by what they saw. One mom stopped to pray, afraid that her son might have been involved in the accident.

“To see all these bodies here, I just don’t know what to say I’m just I can’t believe it,” said Rugina Castillo. Another witness described the accident as horrific.

Investigators were on scene for hours, trying to piece together exactly what happened. Sadly, the bodies of those who lost their lives remained on the interstate, while the grim task of notifying next of kin was completed by other troopers.

“This is awful. It’s horrific to see these bodies here. Makes you want to be extremely careful on I-4,” said Dylan Butler. “I am praying for those families.”

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