Three killed in Gadsden County crash, family speaks

Published: Oct. 23, 2016 at 8:52 PM EDT
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By: Lanetra Bennett

October 24, 2016

MIDWAY, Fla. (WCTV) -- A fiery crash leaves family members mourning.

Leomi Alsaraieh says she never gets phone calls at work unless it's urgent. This one was urgent. It was a call from her daughter about her son. "She was like, ma, I just found out that Jamal was just in an accident and they confirmed that he is dead." Alsaraieh said.

Authorities say 25 year old Vernard Safford, known by family as Jamal, lost control of his of his car while going around a curve on Brickyard Road in Midway around 7:00 p.m.

His car caught fire after crashing into another car going in the opposite direction.

"I started hollering, crying. I fell down in the front at my job while customers were there. I remember my manager and the server trying to get me in the back."

Safford's cousin, 30-year-old Anthony Ware, was in the car with him. He also died.

One cousin said, "It's heartbreaking to know that you're leaving a child behind and a child doesn't understand right at this moment."

Troopers say 41-year-old Ernest Jones was driving the car that Safford hit. He, too, died on scene. Authorities say Jones had on a corrections officer uniform. They say he was leaving work heading home in Midway. State administrators say Jones worked at the Liberty County Correctional Institute, and previously worked at Gadsden Re-Entry.

Authorities say Safford was speeding before the collision.

Safford's mother said, "I've just been feeling empty every since. But I know God got a shield of protection around me, because after I cried at the job, I can't cry no more. It's just like it's not real."

She added, "Jamal was nice, friendly. He loved to have fun, loved to laugh, love to joke. He took on singing as a passion. My only son."

By: Alicia Turner; WCTV Eyewitness News

October 23, 2016

MIDWAY, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a two-car crash in Gadsden County that left three people dead Sunday evening.

The accident happened just after 7 p.m. at the intersection of Brickyard Rd. and Jackson Ct.

Troopers say Vernard Safford, 25, and Anthony Ware, 30, were killed when the car they were in traveled into the opposite lane and collided with the vehicle of Ernest Jones, 41, of Midway.

Jones was also killed in the crash.

The Gadsden County Sheriff's Office says speed did factor into the accident. Investigators also say both cars were fully engulfed by the time first responders arrived on the scene.

The Florida Department of Corrections has confirmed to WCTV that Ernest Jones was a Correctional Officer Sergeant at Liberty Correctional Institution, and prior to that, had worked at the Gadsden Re-Entry Center.

WCTV will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.