Several family members of a Hall County Sheriff's Office deputy were killed Friday in a car accident in northern Florida.
Deputy Larry Perry has worked in the county jail division for three years, according to Sheriff's Office Col. Jeff Strickland.
"This appears to be a terrible tragedy," Strickland said. "Of course, our thoughts and prayer are with Deputy Perry."
Strickland said Perry was headed to Florida with fellow officers traveling with him. He said the sheriff's office will set up a fund to assist Perry.
The three-vehicle crash occurred Friday on U.S. 1 south of the town of Hilliard near Jacksonville.
The victims were identified as Melissa L. Mitchell, 39, Miya Mitchell, 11, and 4-year-old twin brothers Christian and Keyshawn Perry, all of Lawrenceville. The others who died were Brenda Mitchell Edwards, 57, and Dhanja Mitchell, 16, both of Jacksonville.
The victims' exact relation to Perry was unclear Saturday.
Edwards and Melissa Mitchell were mother and daughter. The other victims were Edwards' grandchildren. They were on their way to celebrate the release of Edwards' son from prison, authorities said.
Lt. Bill Leeper, a spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol, said Pedro Juan Ocasio Alcazar, 38, of Jacksonville was speeding Friday in a 1995 Chevrolet Camaro when his car hit the 2010 Nissan van driven by Melissa Mitchell.
Her car then went into the median and hit a pickup truck, according to the FHP accident report posted on the Florida Times-Union Web site.
Online jail records show he was being held at the Nassau County jail on $300,000 bond. He was assigned a public defender, but jail records did not list the attorney's name.
The accident report indicated that all of the victims were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident. Alcazar was not wearing a seat belt.
A passenger in the pickup truck, Charlene Freeman, 27 of Kathleen, Fla., suffered serious but nonlife-threatening injuries and was taken to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, Leeper said. The driver of the truck, Thomas Shaske, 45, of Kathleen suffered only minor injuries.
"It's a very difficult scene to go to," Leeper said, calling it one of the worst he's seen in his career. "It's unusual for this many people to die in a crash, especially in one car."
Authorities said alcohol didn’t appear to be a factor, but the accident was still under investigation.
The accident occurred on a rural stretch of the highway, about a mile north of Kelly's Countryside RV Park, said Fire Chief Sam Young.
Larry Smith, 35, one of Edwards’ seven children and a former defensive lineman for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Florida State, said he was “numb” after losing so many of his family members.
Aundray Mitchell, 41, of Folkston, Ga. and Edward’s oldest child, said he had to deliver the news Saturday his brother, who was released from prison and eager to enjoy time with his family.
“As he was getting out, he was smiling and he was happy and I had to tell him tell him that his mom, his sister and his nieces and nephews died yesterday,” Mitchell said. “It wasn’t easy.”
Times staff writer Ashley Fielding, The Florida Times-Union and The Associated Press contributed to this story.