NEW ORLEANS (PIX11/AP) — Michael and Trudi Hardman had always talked about taking their six children to Disney World, and just a week before Thanksgiving, it seemed their “dream trip” was to be a reality.
But just a little more than three hours after they took to the road Wednesday night, their SUV veered off a highway and rolled over in Louisiana, killing the couple and three of the kids. Michael Hardman’s brother Timothy Hardman said the driver and two passengers were injured, one critically. The driver was wearing a seat belt, but the five people killed were not, officials say.
Police believe the couple’s 16-year-old son apparently fell asleep behind the wheel of the SUV during the drive from Terrell, Texas, to Orlando, Florida. The distance, 1,050 miles, would have taken at least 15 hours to cover.
A toxicology sample was taken at the seen, but officials said they don’t have a reason to believe the driver was impaired. The section of highway where he crashed is flat and straight, and skies were clear that night.
State police spokesman Michael Reichardt says the driver was cited with careless operation, which is a misdemeanor.
Timothy Hardman says going to Disney World was his brother’s family’s “dream trip.”
Hardman described his brother as a generous family man who spent his time coaching little league baseball and working as a second grade teacher.