8/30/2014

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Van in which girl died more likely to roll over, government says

Van in which girl died more likely to roll over, government says

PORTLAND, Ore. – The 11-year-old girl who died Sunday in a wreck while riding in a church van on Interstate 84 was on her way to an evening church service with her mother and younger brother.

Police said Monday the van lost traction on the wet road and the driver lost control.

The pastor's family said they are planning some sort of service for the girl who died. Police identified her as Yoselyn Escobar Vargas late Monday afternoon.

The white 1999 Chevy Express passenger van rolled down the embankment while on a ramp to Interstate 84 from 181st in Gresham. It came to rest on its side. There were nine passengers, including Vargas. Paramedics took everyone else to the hospital, including Vargas' mother and younger brother.

The pastor's family said two people were still in the hospital Monday.

According to Gresham police spokesman Claudio Grandjean, investigators determined the van fishtailed and rolled down the embankment. He said Vargas was ejected from the van, which then rolled over her. Grandjean said investigators are still working to determine whether she was wearing a seatbelt.

The van, owned by a Latino church, Salvados Para Servir, was heading to a 5 o'clock service.

The vans are very common. They are made by Ford, GMC, Chevy and Dodge. They hold up to 15 people.

Drivers don't need a special permit or license, but they're notoriously dangerous. The federal government even made a special website warning churches and other groups about them. They're more likely to rollover than other types of vehicles.

About 90 people a year die in those accidents – they're almost always passengers, not drivers. They're usually not wearing seatbelts.

Investigators found the vans get more unstable and more likely to rollover when there are 10 to 15 people inside.

Two federal reports:

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