4 injured after truck driver strikes vacationing family in Dania Beach

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Three members of a family that was visiting South Florida on vacation remained in the hospital, one day after, officials said, a truck driver struck them as they were walking on a Dania Beach road.

According to Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue, the family of seven was walking off Southwest 42nd Street and Ravens Wood Road when the motorist struck three of them, Sunday, just before 8 p.m.

The family reportedly had arrived a day early from Utah for their annual cruise, a long-running family tradition. “These people were in town, they were supposed to leave on a cruise on Monday, but unfortunately, their lives were changed in an instant,” said Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesperson Mike Jachles.

The family had gone out to eat at the Rustic Inn and had decided to walk back to their hotel when they were struck.

The driver of the pickup truck, identified by officials as a 57-year-old man from Pembroke Pines, then lost control. Police believe alcohol and speed may have been a contributing factor.

“They were [heading] westbound on 42nd Street, on the south shoulder of the road when this pickup truck that was westbound, according to BSO Traffic Homicide detectives, crossed over from the westbound lanes onto the eastbound, onto the grassy median, striking those pedestrians,” Jachles said. “It came to rest through a fence in a concrete pole.”

Police released the names and ages of the family members. They are:

  • 51-year-old David Wensel
  • 47-year-old Kathleen Wensel
  • 10-year-old Tyson Wensel
  • 24-year-old Brian Wensel
  • 11-year-old Hope Wensel
  • 24-year-old Raquel Leota
  • 31-year-old Thomas Leota

Officials said Raquel Leota suffered a severe leg injury as a result of the impact. “The woman’s injury was so serious that her lower leg was severed in the crash,” said Jachles.

Her brother, Tyson Wensel, suffered a serious leg injury. Leota’s husband, Thomas Leota, also sustained injuries, but the other four family members were not hurt, officials said.

Jachles added, “The driver of the truck was also transported with not serious injuries.” The motorist has since been released from the hospital.

Crews were able to respond quickly because there was a fire station located around the corner from the scene of the accident. “Fortunately, our Dania Beach Fire Station 17 was located just feet from where this crash happened,” said Jachles.

Paramedics transported the four injured to Broward Health Medical Center. As of Monday afternoon, three remain hospitalized: Tyson Wensel and Raquel and Thomas Leota.

The woman is listed in critical condition and her brother is listed in serious condition. “It’s tragic that a family [had traveled] down here for a good time, and now they’re in the hospital dealing with this,” said Jachles.

No charges have been filed against the driver as yet. The crash remains under investigation.

If you’d like to help the family, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover their expenses. Go to: https://www.gofundme.com/raqueltyson-medical-recovery-fund.

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