FHP: 3 killed after driver backs car at clubhouse

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Posted: Sunday, February 2, 2014 12:56 pm | Updated: 11:25 pm, Sun Feb 2, 2014.

BRADENTON, Fla. - A community is in shock after a tragic car accident Sunday kills three and seriously injures others who were standing in a parking lot.

The accident occured at the Sugar Creek Country Club on 26th Avenue East in Bradenton as a driver was backing out of a parking spot.  Members of the club were leaving a seasonal church service that meets at the clubhouse when a small crowd of people had gathered to visit in the parking lot.

"The vehicle made contact with several people as it went through the crowd and landed in the canal behind me," said Florida Highway Patrol's Brett Fitzpatrick.

The white Tahoe, driven by 79-year-old Doreen Landstra of Palmetto, killed three people and seriously injured four others.

Trooper Fitzpatrick said the accident is still under investigation.

"Apparently they put it in reverse and backed out of the space and thought they put it in drive and actually was still in reverse and hit the gas pedal," said one witness.

Killed in the accident were 72-year-old Margaret Vanderlaan, 70-year-old Wilhemina Paul, and 80-year-old Johanna Dijkhoff, all Bradenton residents.

Steve Watts is the President of Sugar Creek Club.  "It just blows your mind. you see it happen in other places around the country but you never think it would happen here."

He and his wife Muriel, a retired paramedic were the first on the scene.  "The Scene was horrid. There were five people down on the ground bleeding. It was just a horrible sight," said Muriel.

She immediately began assisting the injured until paramedics arrived.  "I was cutting his shirt and another paramedic was cutting his pants and he had a tire mark from his ankle all the way up to his rib cage. It was a definite car tire."

She said news of the tragic deaths and injuries are hitting this close-knit community hard.

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