Church mourning 5 kids killed in I-75 crash; amends statement on pregnant woman involved in crash

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) - Twelve members of a Louisiana church were in a van headed to Disney World when their van was involved in a fiery, 4-vehicle crash on Interstate-75 Thursday. Five of the children in the van died in the crash.

The van was carrying members of the United Pentecostal Church in Marksville, Louisiana, according to Kevin Cox who is Superintendent of the Louisiana District UPCI. 

Cox said that the pastor’s wife, two other women with the church, and nine children were in the van.

Five of the children were killed in the accident.

They were identified Friday as Joel Cloud, 14, Jeremiah Warran, also 14, Cierra Bordelan, 9, Cara Descant, 13, and Brieana Descant, 10.

One of the deceased children was the granddaughter of the pastor, according to Cox.

The four other children were injured in the crash and are expected to survive, Cox said.

Also on the van was a pregnant woman who was injured,

The church amended their statement on Friday, saying the pregnant woman is "pretty banged up," but doctors have been able to stabilize her and the unborn child. 

Below is the message about the crash that Cox shared on the Louisiana District United Pentacostal Church’s Facebook page.


Yesterday, January 3, 2019, a van load of people from our United Pentecostal Church in Marksville, Louisiana (pastor Eric Descant) were on their way to Orlando, Florida.

For some unknown reason, a large tractor-trailer truck crossed the median of I-75 near Gainesville, Florida and crashed into the church van. Sister Karen Descant, the pastor’s wife, and two other adult ladies were on board the van. In addition, nine children were also on the van. Sadly, five of those children did not survive the accident. Pastor Descant was not with them, but is at the hospital there in Gainesville with those who survived.

Sister Karen Descant has seven broken ribs, a broken collarbone, multiple bruises, cuts, etc. Pastor Descant’s words were, “She is pretty banged up. One of the ladies is pregnant and "pretty banged up", but doctors have been able to keep her and her unborn baby stabilized. The other lady is not as severely injured, but is still in the hospital. The four children all have injuries, but the medical staff feel that all of them will heal and recover.

One of the five children who died in the accident, was the granddaughter of Pastor Descant.

It is possible that many of you have already been made aware of the accident because it made national news. But, you may not have heard that it was our own people who were involved. Pastor Jimmy Toney (pastor in Gainsville) and his wife have been with our people almost the entire time since they were transported to the hospital. They and their church have been exceedingly kind in this horrific tragedy.

Please pray for the healing of those physical injuries. And, perhaps even more so, pray for that church family that has been so massively affected by this tragedy. Please pray for the families who lost precious children, the other accident victims, all involved in the rescue efforts, and the church family. They will need our prayers in the coming weeks and months.

~ Kevin Cox
Superintendent, Louisiana District UPCI


Many people are contacting our office via phone, emails, and social media regarding a way to help financially during this tragic event. The Louisiana District UPCI has set up a fund for monetary donations for the Marksville church and families affected by this tragedy.

Please send all donations and contributions to the Louisiana District at or by mail to: P. O. Box 248, Tioga, LA 71477.

***Please note that 100% of the funds received will be forwarded to the Marksville church and affected families. None of the donated funds will remain in the Louisiana District Office.***

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