WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - At least one person has died after rescue crews pulled a man and an elderly woman from a submerged minivan that crashed into an alligator-infested retention pond off the Florida Turnpike in West Miami-Dade, authorities said.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, just before noon on Friday, a blue Toyota minivan was traveling southbound on the Turnpike when the driver attempted to exit onto westbound Southwest Eighth Street and lost control when trying to negotiate the right curve on the exit ramp.
“The vehicle lost control, overturned, driving off of the roadway into the pond,” said FHP Lt. Alex Camacho. “Dive teams from fire rescue and Miami-Dade Police did their search and rescue, and were able to rescue an adult female and adult male inside of the vehicle at the time.”
First responders administered CPR to the elderly woman once she was out of the water.
Paramedics transported both victims to HCA Florida Kendall Hospital in critical condition.
Late Friday night, FHP confirmed at least one fatality, but have not provided further details.
Earlier FHP reports indicated that children were also involved in the crash because there was a child restraint in the back seat of the van. It has been confirmed that no children were in the water when the van crashed.
Police and fire rescue divers searched for survivors while risking their own lives as they swam in the murky and dangerous water.
Good Samaritans who saw the crash jumped into the water to assist the elderly woman.
Police snipers were on the scene to protect divers from the alligators, with officers positioned around the pond with rifles prepared to protect the first responders.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials were called out to the scene.
The damaged minivan was later pulled from the retention pond and has been towed from the scene, as investigators work to determine what caused the crash.
The Turnpike was later reopened to traffic.
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