Local News

4 of 5 killed on I-95 were from one family

Posted May 16
Updated May 19

— Four of the five people killed in a fiery wreck on Interstate 95 near the South Carolina border Tuesday were members of one family.

Troopers with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said Department of Transportation crews were painting when a tanker carrying fuel did not slow down and caused a chain-reaction crash involving multiple vehicles.

The tanker, driven by Michael Elliott Bricker, 68, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., hit a Dodge pickup truck, pushing it into a Ford Explorer SUV. That Explorer then was pushed into the rear of a Ford Escape SUV.

The tanker continued southbound and hit two other tractor-trailers, igniting the gas in the tanker and sparking a fire.

The driver who caused the crash, Bricker, died, along with four people in the pickup: driver Elise Ann Spennati, 32, her husband, Cole Allen Spennati, 25, and their daughters Sianna Spennati, 1, and Aila Spennati, 4, all of Goose Creek, S.C.

Cole Spennati was in the Navy, and his wife was a Navy veteran, according to her mother, Marla Larson.

"Elise was a wonderful and dedicated mother. Her priorities were nurturing her children and having a close-knit family," Larson said in an email to WRAL News.

The family was returning to South Carolina from a visit with Cole Spennati's family in Pennsylvania when they were killed.

Three people from the Ford Explorer suffered serious injuries and were taken to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill: driver Javier A. Estrada-Beltran, 46, and passengers Francisco Morales-Gaspar, 35, and Lucia De-La-Cruz, 34, all of Charleston, S.C.

The driver of the Ford Escape, Mary Ann Payne, 68, of Kansas City, Mo., was taken to Florence Medical Center in South Carolina with serious injuries.

The drivers of the two other tractor-trailers involved were checked out by emergency personnel at the scene.

After the wreckage was cleared from the southbound lanes of I-95 near Exit 10 in Robeson County, state Department of Transportation crews spent Tuesday evening inspecting the roadway for safety.

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