Crime

Two Bradenton teens in Interstate 4 rollover crash still hospitalized; vigil planned

LAKELAND -- Two of the seven Bradenton church members injured in a single-vehicle rollover accident while traveling Saturday on Interstate 4 through Polk County remained hospitalized Tuesday evening.

Four vehicles from Journey Assembly of God in Bradenton were driving to a Christian music festival in Orlando when a tire blew, causing a large sport utility vehicle to flip.

Two 17-year-old girls remain at Polk County hospitals. One has a broken back, ankle and thumb and must be fitted for a back brace before she can be released, according to a news release from the church. Despite pain, she is improving daily through physical therapy and expected to be released by Friday, Pastor Don Carter said.

Another girl, who was ejected from the vehicle, remains unconscious and in critical condition. In a statement, her father said the lower levels of her brain stem, still attached to her spine, are functioning. The higher levels, which control cognitive thinking, are not functioning. She also is running a fever.

"We need to pray that the pressure on the inner brain comes down so that the doctors can insert the proper tool into the brain to relieve the pressure," he said. "They cannot get into the inner brain with the stent because of this swelling."

A candlelight vigil and prayer is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday in front of the church, 5017 37th St. E. Community members are asked to provide their own candles or flashlights.

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