Five children were among the seven victims of a horrific crash involving their church van as they were making their way to Disney World in Orlando, Florida on Thursday.
The victims were all from Avoyelles Parish, a United Pentecostal Church in Marksville, Louisiana, and according to the Louisiana District of the UPC included the granddaughter of Pastor Eric Descant.
The Louisiana District said in a statement on its Facebook page that a large tractor-trailer truck collided with the church van on I-75 near Gainesville, Florida.
Although Pastor Descant was not part of the group, his wife, Karen Descant, was in the van at the time and sustained several broken ribs and a broken collarbone.
Four of the nine children in the group survived as did two other adult companions, including a pregnant woman who was being treated in hospital.
Kevin Cox, Superintendent of the Louisiana District, called the accident a 'horrific tragedy'.
'Please pray for the healing of those physical injuries. And, perhaps even more so, pray for that church family that has been so massively affected by this tragedy,' he said.
'Please pray for the families who lost precious children, the other accident victims, all involved in the rescue efforts, and the church family. They will need our prayers in the coming weeks and months.'
Jacquee Wahler, a spokesperson for Walt Disney World Resort, said, 'There are no words to convey the sorrow we feel for those involved in yesterday's tragedy. We extend heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones impacted by this tragic accident.'
US Senator John Kennedy said the wreck was 'devastating'.
'I am heartbroken by the sudden deaths of these five children from Marksville,' he said in a statement released Friday afternoon by his office.
'These children were on their way to Disney World with their church when they were tragically killed in this horrific highway accident. Please join me in praying for all who are hurting from this accident.'
The UPC's Louisiana District has set up a donation page to raise funds for the victims' families.