NORTH LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Three men were killed and another remains in the hospital after, authorities said, they were thrown from a stolen car when the vehicle crashed at a Florida Turnpike toll plaza in North Lauderdale.
Florida Highway Patrol deputies were dispatched to the single-vehicle crash at around 2:30 a.m., Tuesday.
According to FHP, the stolen vehicle was heading north along the Turnpike. Shortly after passing Commercial Boulevard, officials said, the driver lost control at the Cypress Creek Road Toll Plaza.
“This had to be one of the most violent crashes that I’ve seen,” said FHP Sgt. Mark Wysocky. “The way it hit the crash attenuator and then went up and over the tollbooth and people ejected in all directions, it was an extremely violent collision.”
Investigators said the sedan was stolen in Miramar, Monday morning.
Officials said the car came in sideways through the cash lanes of the toll plaza, hit the barrier walls and flew over the the tollbooth.
Wysocky said the car struck the concrete median at the toll booth, then went flying at least 10 feet in the air, striking the top of the tollbooth. “Overturned airborne over the top of the toll plaza, hitting the air-conditioning unit,” he said.
Officials said the force of the impact caused all four male passengers to be ejected. “One of the occupants ended up on the roof of the building, another occupant ended up on the northbound Turnpike lanes in the median,” said Wysocky.
The other two passengers landed in the toll lanes.
Officials said none were wearing seat belts. “You had four people ejected from a car that was very severely damaged,” said Wysocky. “Always remember to wear your seat belt.”
Two people were pronounced dead at the scene, while one person died at the hospital. The fourth passenger remains in critical condition.
Police have not yet released their names.
One tollbooth worker saw the violent crash unfold. “The person that was in the tollbooth was in Tollbooth 1, which was over here the the right side,” said Wysocky.
That employee was not hurt. “Obviously, very fortunate that she wasn’t in the second tollbooth that was hit,” said Wysocky.
All northbound lanes along the Turnpike were shut down between Commercial and Atlantic Boulevard for hours. However, all lanes have since reopened.
“Well any time you have a serious crash with multiple fatalities, you’re probably gonna have to close the Turnpike,” said Wysocky. “The instances of this, it’s a single-vehicle, and the damage and the way the vehicle overturned, over the top of the toll plaza, taking out an air-conditioning unit and having the toll plaza sustain damages. It’s pretty heavy.”
Tuesday afternoon, crews remained at the toll plaza removing debris.
Authorities believe the car must have been speeding. However, the cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Copyright 2018 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.