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    Companies sued in van crash that killed 3 kids

    By Times staff writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published May 18, 2002

    TAMPA -- Representatives of the estates of three children killed in a van accident in 2000 filed a lawsuit Friday in state court against a tire manufacturer and the auto sales company that sold the van.

    Joyce Smith, 3, James Smith, 11, and Shawn McKinney, a 2-week-old infant, all of Winter Haven, were killed on June 9, 2000, when they were thrown from a 1986 Plymouth van after the left rear tire blew on Interstate 4 about 2 miles west of Plant City, according to the lawsuit.

    Six other passengers also suffered injuries, including broken bones.

    Felicia Shepard, mother of Joyce and James, bought the van eight days earlier from Jean's Auto Sales in Winter Haven. She returned on June 9 to have the van inspected for a vibration she felt while driving.

    She was told the van was fit to drive so left for a birthday party in Tampa, the lawsuit states.

    The lawsuit names Kumho Tire U.S.A., a subsidiary of a South Korean company with U.S. headquarters in California, and Jean's Auto Sales as negligent. Officials at the two companies could not be reached for comment.

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