Sister of 14-Year-Old Boy Killed in Florida Church Van Crash Speaks Out: 'We're Heartbroken'

"We're at a loss for words," Kayla Warren tells PEOPLE of the tragic church van crash

Photo: United Pentecostal Church and Michael Warren

The sister of a 14-year-old boy who was killed in a fiery collision involving a church van on it’s way to Disney World says that her brother was “so excited” to go on the trip.

Jeremiah Warren, of Marksville, Louisiana, was in the eighth grade, went to church to participate in their youth group three times a week and was a “child of God,” says his sister, Kayla Warren.

“It was his first time going to Disney,” Kayla tells PEOPLE. “He never got to go on vacation. He grew up in a single-parent home.”

Jeremiah was one of seven people who were killed on Thursday afternoon after two semi-trucks and two passenger vehicles — a passenger van and a mid-size sedan — were involved in the deadly wreck on 1-75 in Florida. The collision caused nearly 50 gallons of diesel fuel to catch fire.

Of the seven people killed, five were children who ranged in age from 9 to 14-years-old, the Florida Highway Patrol confirmed on Friday.

A fundraising page has been created to help raise money for the victims and their families.

Kayla remembers her younger brother as “a very quiet and to himself kind of person” who loved to dance and had aspirations to become a lawyer.

The siblings’ younger sister — who is 9 years old — wanted to go on the trip with her older brother, but all children under the age of 10 needed to be accompanied by a chaperon, and the children’s father, Michael Warren, couldn’t attend. Kayla says Michael is now in Florida.

“I’m thankful that she didn’t go,” says Kayla, “but it’s so terrible that we lost him.”

She added: “We’re at a loss for words. We’re heartbroken and devastated.”

Candice Lemoine, a friend of the family, tells PEOPLE: “It’s just tragic when the kids saved their money to make this special trip and never made it there.”

Florida highway crash kills seven people, Gainesville, USA - 04 Jan 2019

She added that several organizations have come forward to help pay for everything from caskets to medical bills. Lemoine knew two of the children who died in the crash, including 14-year-old Jeremiah.

On Friday afternoon, the United Pentecostal Church organization spoke on behalf of the Avoyelles House of Mercy in Marksville about the crash.

In a Facebook post, they confirmed that Sister Karen Descant, who is the wife of the church’s pastor, Eric Descant, and two other women were injured in the crash.

“Sister Karen Descant has seven broken ribs, a broken collarbone, multiple bruises, cuts, etc. Pastor Descant’s words were, ‘She is pretty banged up. One of the ladies is pregnant and pretty banged up, but doctors have been able to keep her and her unborn baby stabilized. The other lady is not as severely injured, but is still in the hospital. The four children all have injuries, but the medical staff feel that all of them will heal and recover.”

Although Lemoine wasn’t a member of the church, she says that the church’s youth members raised money for the trip “as a little treat” while the kids were out of school.

On Thursday afternoon, one of the semi-trucks that was traveling northbound on the highway collided with a passenger vehicle, sending both vehicles through the guardrail and into the southbound lanes. The vehicles then collided with the church van and another semi-truck.

A helicopter helped search for victims who may have been in nearby woods after being ejected from the van, which overturned in the collision. Both semi-trucks caught on fire.

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