MIAMI (CBS4) – A Miami church group’s road trip to Orlando turned deadly Sunday morning.

Florida Highway Patrol investigators said the group was just south of Orlando when one of the church van’s tires blew and the driver lost control.

Investigators said the van then flipped several times and 46-year-old Merlande Chery was thrown from the vehicle. Chery was pronounced dead on the scene.

“When I heard the news, my heart dropped and I just can’t believe it,” said the woman’s younger cousin Marie Rabrun.

There were 20 people riding in the van at the time of the accident. Six were taken to the hospital, three of whom had to be airlifted.

As FHP continues to search for answers as to what exactly went wrong, Chery’s friends and family focus on keeping her memory alive.

“Her name is always going to be in our mouth,” said Nosta Rabrun, another of the woman’s younger cousins. “Each time we say her name we will smile. We are going to talk about the memories and the good things like how she spoke French and how she was prissy, just the good stuff you know.”

FHP officials say the accident is still under investigation.


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