The Hall County Sheriff’s Office hopes to set up a fund today to help a deputy who lost several members of his family in a car accident Friday in northern Florida.
“If anyone wants to contribute (today), they can make a donation at the jail,” where Larry Perry has worked the past three years, said Sheriff’s Office Col. Jeff Strickland on Sunday.
Perry was back home in Lilburn Sunday evening after he and two other deputies traveled to Florida over the weekend, Strickland said.
The three-vehicle crash occurred on U.S. 1 south of the town of Hilliard near Jacksonville.
The victims were identified as Perry’s ex-wife, Melissa L. Mitchell, 39; Miya Mitchell, 11; and Perry’s 4-year-old sons, Christian and Keyshawn Perry, all of Lawrenceville. The others who died were Brenda Mitchell Edwards, 57, and Dhanja Mitchell, 16, both of Jacksonville.
Edwards and Melissa Mitchell were mother and daughter. The other victims were Edwards’ grandchildren. They were taking a spring break trip, which coincided with 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 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 highway patrol’s accident report posted on the Florida Times-Union Web site.
Jail records show he was being held at the Nassau County jail on $300,000 bond. He was assigned a public defender, but 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 one.
A passenger in the pickup truck, Charlene Freeman, 27, of Kathleen, Fla., suffered serious but not life-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.
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 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.”