Family Remembers 20-Year-Old Nostra Damas, Victim of Church Van Crash

Nostra Damas, 20, was killed after a church van traveling from Lauderhill to Tampa crashed in Fort Meyers.

By Claudia DoCampo and Alexandra Leon
|  Sunday, Sep 15, 2013  |  Updated 6:55 PM EDT
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Family members gathered to remember 20-year-old Nostra Damas, the victim of a crash in Fort Meyers that injured 15 others as a church van traveled from Lauderhill to Tampa. NBC 6's Claudia DoCampo reports.

Family members gathered to remember 20-year-old Nostra Damas, the victim of a crash in Fort Meyers that injured 15 others as a church van traveled from Lauderhill to Tampa. NBC 6's Claudia DoCampo reports.

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20-Year-Old Dead Following Church Van Crash

A church van crashed in Fort Meyers as it traveled from Lauderhill to Tampa, killing 20-year-old Nostra Damas and injuring 15 others. NBC 6's Gilma Avalos has the story.

Churchgoers Speak About Fatal Van Crash

Authorities say one person has died and more than a dozen people were injured when a church van rolled over in Lee County near Ft. Myers, Fla as the van traveled from Lauderhill to Tampa. NBC 6's Claudia DoCampo spoke with members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Lauderhill about the crash.
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The family of a 20-year-old who died in a van crash gathered to mourn their loss Sunday.

Nostra Damas was killed after a van traveling from the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lauderhill to Tampa rolled over several times Saturday morning in Fort Meyers.

"I can't get over it, I can't believe it," cousin Nasha St. Gerard said. "I still think that he's going to walk through the door. Well that's what I'm hoping."

Damas was a college student, devoted to his family and his church, family members said.

"He had a good heart," St. Gerard said. "He would never hurt nobody."

His sister Melinda Damas, 21, was on the bus with him when it crashed. She told NBC 6 that she saw him shaking and begged him to stay alive.

"'Just breathe, just breathe,'" she told him.

The crash occurred after the van's driver lost control when a tire blew out. The left rear tire tread separated from the tire, causing the van to drive onto the emergency lane on Interstate-75 in Estero, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

At least 15 were injured in the crash -- many severely. Two other vans coming from the church were behind the one that crashed, but were unaffected.

Family and friends prepared the Damas home as the victim's parents traveled back from Fort Meyers.

"This family is going to need a lot of prayers, because we lost a good person," St. Gerard said.

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