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A Wisconsin brother and sister on vacation in Florida were killed last week on their way back from looking at Christmas lights when a carjacking suspect driving more than 100 miles per hour toward oncoming traffic slammed into their SUV.
The impact killed 18-year-old Danycka Milis and her older brother Domynick Milis, 21, instantly.
The sibling’s younger brother Drake, 13, and cousin Kyley Larsen, 17, had been sitting in the backseat of the vehicle and were seriously injured during the crash, according to local station WKMG.
“Last night was just a horrific tragedy that occurred and I don’t know what words I can say to the families and the parents of these young people,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a press conference posted online by the news outlet. “It’s just such a devastating event that occurred.”
Chitwood said the incident began around 7 p.m. on Dec. 29 when a deputy spotted a car in a Walmart parking lot that had been stolen during a carjacking of a pizza delivery driver in Orlando several days earlier.
The 47-year-old driver of the vehicle—who Chitwood described as a “career violent criminal” with 50 prior arrests—took off in the vehicle, turning off the car’s headlights and getting onto I-95, where he traveled at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour.
The deputy lost sight of the car, but a Volusia County K-9 deputy picked up the pursuit and followed “behind him quite a distance,” Chitwood said.
Authorities said the suspect made a U-turn on the interstate and began driving northbound toward oncoming traffic and struck the Milis siblings and their cousin in a head-on collision.
The family had been returning from a Christmas lights display at the Daytona International Speedway and was following another vehicle filled with family members when the siblings missed their exit—putting them directly in the suspect’s path.
“Life is precious. 25 yards, 25-yard difference. If they make that exit, they are alive. If they miss it, they are dead,” an emotional Chitwood said of the deadly crash. “At this time of year, or every time of year, you should maybe hold your family a little closer, because some family is not doing that tonight.”
Chitwood said the suspect—who also died in the crash—had 50 prior arrests, no driver’s license and a 200-page criminal history report that included eight incarcerations in a state prison for infractions including carjacking, home invasion and robbery.
He declined to name the suspect until authorities were able to identify the man’s family.
“My thoughts are that he murdered those kids as if he put a gun to both their heads and shot them,” he said.
Chitwood described the accident scene as something that is “seared into your memory.”
“This is going to stay with a lot of people for a long time, but nothing compares to the family,” he said. “It’s so, so senseless that this murdering thug, with no respect for law, with no respect for human life and he snuffed out these young people’s lives.”
A GoFundMe account established by Carie Hill to help the family transport their children back to Wisconsin and pay for funeral expenses has already exceeded $120,000.
“We are asking for prayers to help with having to deal with this kind of devastating loss,” Hill said.
The sibling’s mother, Tina Milis, said in a statement posted to the fundraising site that she had been in a “fog” since the loss of two of her children.
“I can’t make sense of this or wrap my head around the last 20 hours,” she wrote. “Domynick and Danycka were best friends and I am thankful they had each other on their journey to heaven. I know they had so many waiting at the gates to welcome them both.”
Tina Milis said her children’s lives will continue to live on in those around them.
“Domynick and Danycka were both organ donors so someone will be able to see this beautiful world through their eyes, hear their heart beat a bit stronger with new valves and walk a little taller with new veins,” she said.
Tina said their son Drake had suffered a broken right clavicle, fractured ribs, bruised lungs and a laceration to his left kidney in the crash. An update posted by the boy’s father, Daniel Milis, said he had been released from the hospital on New Year’s Day.
“Drake just got his hospital eviction papers,” he wrote. “We are heading back to our friends home in Leesburg for some continued rest and recovery.”
Tina thanked the community for their “outpouring of love and support.”
“Please continue to pray for all of us as we have no idea how we will go through life without 2 of the most amazing, caring, selfless human beings that I will forever be able to call my son and daughter.”
A GoFundMe account set up to help with medical expenses for Kyley Larson said the teenager had suffered several cracked ribs, fractured vertebrae, stitches to her knee and lacerations to her colon.
Hill told WKMG that Domynick and Danycka had both been avid runners.
“Domynick and Danycka just both loved to run and in fact they actually got scholarships for track,” Hill said.
Their high school track coach Kyle Van Damme said in a message on Facebook that he had been “crushed, sad, angry and confused” after learning the devastating news.
Van Damme said Domynick had been in college to become a teacher and that Danycka had just started college after graduating from high school.
“The worst news to wake up to this morning while on vacation in the Keys,” he wrote. “Domynick and Danycka were some of the most amazing young adults I know…Their family is one of the very best, most supportive, and closest I know.”
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