Belleville, Ont., sisters killed, 3 others in critical condition after Florida crash

Two sisters from Belleville, Ont., were killed in a crash outside of Jacksonville, Fla., when their family’s vehicle was rear-ended by a truck driver, while three other family members are fighting for their lives, police say.

Master Sergeant Dylan Bryan of the Florida Highway Patrol says the vehicle carrying the family of six was struck from behind on Saturday while they moved through a green light at an intersection.

Two of the daughters pronounced were dead at the scene. The parents and two other children were taken to hospital with injuries, and three of the family members remain in critical condition.

The father, Belleville lawyer Pieter Kort, has recovered enough to be released from the hospital, according to Bryan.

Kort remains at hospital, though, while his wife and two children continue to receive treatment.

“As far as I know they are still fighting for their lives, but are receiving good treatment here in our local trauma facility,” said Bryan.

This image shows the aftermath of the crash as a truck rear-ended the Kort’s family vehicle. (Supplied by WTLV Jacksonville)

‘Heavy’ truck caused multi-vehicle crash

The concrete pump truck was “a very large vehicle, very heavy vehicle” that forced the Kort family vehicle into another SUV in front of them, police said.

The truck driver, a 48-year-old man from Gainesville, Fla., was not injured. The driver and passenger in the SUV suffered minor injuries.

Bryan said the Florida Highway Patrol is currently investigating why the driver was unable to stop before causing the crash.

“We are looking into various aspects, whether impairment was involved, distraction, cellphone use, fatigue or any additional distractions or other causation that could have contributed to this crash,” he said.

WATCH: Belleville, Ont., mayor on tragic crash in Florida:

Belleville residents raise money for local family after fatal Florida crash

Mitch Panciuk, mayor of Belleville, says the community is pulling together to support the family involved in a fatal crash near Jacksonville, Fla., that killed two girls and injured four other members of the family. 0:49

‘Unspeakable tragedy,’ Belleville mayor says

According to a GoFundMe page set up for the family, the crash happened while they were returning home from a family vacation in Florida.

Fundrasiser organizer Lindsay Young wrote “we know the road ahead will be long and fraught with immeasurable grievance.”

The GoFundMe raised more than $360,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s an unspeakable tragedy,” said Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk.

Panciuk called the Kort family a pillar of the community, and many in Belleville have been eager to support them.

“I think that’s an indication of the respect and how much the family is well-liked,” said Panciuk. “People just want to step up and help.”

Panciuk said the local court put all non-urgent cases on hold yesterday out of respect.

The Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board issued a statement Sunday saying they are “deeply saddened by the news of a tragic accident that involved the passing of two students and two other students who are critically injured.”

The board said its bereavement team will be at Nicholson Catholic College and St. Joseph Catholic School to support people who are affected.

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