FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A 2-year-old girl has died and a 5-year-old girl is fighting for her life after they were involved in a crash on Interstate 95 in Deerfield Beach.
The violent collision also sent the woman who was driving the car the children were riding in to the hospital with minor injuries.
Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue and Florida Highway Patrol units responded to the scene of the crash, just after 11 a.m., Sunday.
Investigators said a Toyota Corolla and a Kia Forte slammed into one another on the southbound lanes near a barrier between Sample Road and Southwest 10th Street.
FHP officials said the children, who were inside the Corolla, were not in a car seat, and it remains unclear if the children were wearing their seat belts.
Firefighters said they worked aggressively to stabilize the young victims after the crash, but their injuries required serious medical care.
One of the girls was transported by air to Broward Health Medical Center, while the other child was rushed by ground.
Sunday evening, authorities confirmed the youngest victim, later identified as Akeena Avanel Bennett, had succumbed to her injuries at the scene.
The 5-year-old girl, Keanna Ariel Bennett, remains in critical condition and on life support.
In a video posted to Facebook, Annette Bennett, the children’s mother, said, “I see everybody calling me, but I can’t answer everybody, so I’m just asking you guys to keep us in your prayers, OK? I miss both of my kids. Both of my kids are gone. The two of them are gone.”
Bennett said her and her husband were away for the weekend when they received the call notifying them of what happened.
Investigators later identified the driver of the Corolla as 34-year-old Rashida Raby. It remains unclear whether or not she was wearing a seat belt.
Paramedics transported her to Broward Health Medical Center with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Officials said the driver of the Kia, 26-year-old Zachary Schoot, suffered minor injuries and declined to go to the hospital. There were no other passengers in his car.
Troopers shut down all southbound lanes on I-95 at Southwest 10th Street, backing up traffic for miles. They have since reopened.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
FHP officials said Rashida is not the girls’ mother but a family friend.
It remains unclear whether she will be facing any criminal charges.
Under Florida law, any children age 5 or younger must be in a restraint device that is both crash-tested and federally approved.
Annette Bennett has started a GoFundMe page to help with the medical and funeral expenses.
“Akeena has died she has gained her precious little wings and we have opted to keep Keanna on life support since they gave her 24hrs to live. This is going to be a long road ahead of us and we need your support,” she wrote on the page.
Bennett said her and her husband had life insurance, but they never thought their children would go first.
To donate, click here.
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