When 15-year-old Lidiane Carmo lost her family in the horrific pileup on Florida’s Interstate 75, it was likely the worst moment of her life, but it appeared things were going to get even worse after it was discovered she was up for deportation.
On Sunday, fog and smoke from a nearby brush fire caused a number of vehicles on I-75 to collide as visibility was dangerously low.
Lidiane’s family was on their way back from a three-day religious trip when they were tragically killed in the I-75 accident. She was taken to a Gainsville hospital and was told on Tuesday that her family had died.
She lost her father, Jose Carmo Jr., who was a pastor for their church, his wife Adriana and their oldest daughter, Leticia, 17; her Uncle Edsom and his girlfriend, Rose DeSilva.
In a twist of fate that ultimately saved his life, fellow pastor of the Igreja Internacional da Restauracao (International Church of the Restoration), Arao Amazonas, chose to stay in Florida and head back to Georgia in the morning.
In the end, 11 people were killed, and many more injured in Sunday’s massive chain of accidents.
Though 9th-grader Lidiane managed to survive the wreck, she was facing deportation back to Brazil, though her family had lived in the U.S. for 12 years.
Thursday, immigration officials stated that Lidiane would not be deported.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez told CNN, “Our thoughts and prayers are with Miss Lidiane Carmo as she deals with the tragic loss of her family.” She added, “Reports of her facing deportation are completely false.”
Sadly, Pastor Amazonas says the church and the congregation cannot afford to bring the bodies of the Carmo family back to Georgia, let alone pay for services or caskets. And while Lidiane is not being deported the medical bills for her emergency and after-care will be very high, as she does not have insurance.