Osceola County crash kills three from Pinellas familyBy MAUREEN BYRNE AHERN
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 25, 2002
LaRhonda Brooks didn't feel right about letting her 9-year-old son accompany his grandparents and two aunts on a trip to Melbourne this past weekend.
"But he asked to go and I gave him permission," Brooks said Monday.
Her 21-year-old sister picked up her son Friday afternoon, and she waved goodbye as they pulled away from her St. Petersburg home.
It would be the last time she saw either of them alive.
They died along with her mother in a two-vehicle collision about 6 p.m. Sunday on a rain-slicked road near St. Cloud in Osceola County.
"I haven't stopped crying since last night," Brooks, 27, said. "I truly ache."
Her mother, Dinah Seay, 42, and her sister, LaToya Doles-Edwards, both of Gulfport, and her son, Xavier Graham, died at the scene.
Her stepfather, Daryl Seay, 44, was in critical condition, along with her 10-year-old stepsister, LaShaundria Latson.
Four people in another vehicle, including two off-duty Kissimmee firefighters, were in serious or critical condition.
Florida Highway Patrol officials said the Kia Sportage, with Dinah Seay behind the wheel, slammed into a Ford van after hydroplaning on U.S. 192 at State Road 15, 10 miles east of St. Cloud.
The Seays had made the trip several times from Gulfport to Melbourne so Daryl Seay could preach at a church there. But they had never taken their grandson along.
During their last trip, someone tried to break into their car, Brooks said.
"A part of me just didn't feel right about (Xavier going on the trip)," she said.
Heartbroken, she struggled Monday to find the words to describe her son, sister and mother.
Dinah Seay was active at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, where her husband was a preacher. LaToya, married less than a year, was outgoing. "She always spoke her mind," Brooks said.
Xavier liked to watch wrestling, play video games and ride his bike, she said.
"It's just an awful thing that has happened," said Sharon Jackson, principal of Gulfport Elementary, where Xavier was a third-grader, and LaShaundria is in fourth grade. The school operates on an extended year calendar, and counselors were there Monday.
Julie Long's two daughters returned from school Monday in tears. The family lives in the same Gulfport neighborhood where Dinah Seay lived for nearly 20 years.
"They walked in sobbing hysterically," she said. "They were crying so hard I couldn't understand them."
Long said she has a special relationship with LaShaundria. She said Xavier was a sweetheart. She described them as, "sweet, happy kids."
The off-duty Kissimmee firefighters were identified as Paul Derojas and Amy Brown. Also injured in the van were Derojas' teenage daughter, Alexandra, and her friend, Elliot Miller.
All were taken to local hospital trauma centers, said Kissimmee fire Chief John Chapman.
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