Attorney of family whose home was hit by church van speaks out

Reporter: Olivia Jean
Published: Updated:

Four children are back with their family just a day after a van slammed into their home on Braman Ave in Fort Myers.

What used to be a children’s bedroom now sits as a bunch of rubble.


On Tuesday night around 8 p.m., the walls were boarded up and an inspector slapped a red note on the front door saying the house was unliveable.

The family of the home spent the day back at their house, but the four kids and two parents are sleeping in a hotel.

A family’s safe space is their house, but yesterday, not for a Fort Myers family.

Marc Shapiro, the personal injury attorney for the family whose house was hit, told us what the family’s plan is.

“They’re staying at a hotel for tonight, but long term, they don’t know what’s going to happen,” Shapiro said.

He said the family rented here for six years and are in shock.

“I don’t believe they’ve ever experienced anything like this. I mean, I’m not sure I have experienced anything like this and I’ve been practicing 33 years,” Shapiro said.

On Tuesday around 11 a.m., a church van flew into one of the children’s bedrooms. Witnesses said the van was speeding and swerving down Royal Palm Ave before hitting the house.

Four children, 1-10 years old, were taken to the hospital, with only minor injuries to one child.

“They have extensive medical records. They did some X-ray tests on them. There’s nothing life-threatening, but they have some level of discomfort,” Shapiro said.

Discomfort to say the least. The scene on Tuesday was massive. WINK News was the only media on the scene to see the entire chain of events.

CREDIT: Marc Shapiro

EMS fire, and police were all on the scene to help assist. Red Cross showed up shortly after and spoke to the family. They offered them food and water. The Fort Myers Police Department helped find the family temporary housing.

A tow truck was also on the scene. It took around 30 minutes to get the car out of the house. WINK News Reporter Olivia Jean exclusively spoke with the tow operator right after the difficult task as well as the Fire Marshal.


“From my limited knowledge in looking at the damage inside, it looks like this is not going to be able to be fixed overnight,” Shapiro said.

Those on the scene said the driver was the only one in the car and had low blood sugar at the time of the crash.

The van belonged to the First Haitian Baptist Church of Fort Myers. WINK News has reached the church several times since the incident and has not heard back.

The crash report says the driver suffered some type of medical episode but there is no cause or diagnosis at this time.

It is unclear if the 78-year-old driver is still in the hospital.

Remains of the church van are still on the scene even though it was towed. The side mirror of the van currently sits on the side of the house: a stark reminder of what was lost here.

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