A Florida woman has been found guilty of three counts of attempted murder, more than a year after police state she tried to kill herself and her two sons by intentionally steering her van into oncoming traffic and ramming the vehicle into a fuel tanker.
Eighth Circuit Judge Mark Moseley found Melissa Gail Mack, 49, of Gainesville, guilty on Friday of two counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of attempted second-degree murder after a two-day bench trial in Alachua County, Florida.
Mack is being held at the Alachua County jail. A pre-sentence investigation will be conducted, but a sentencing date has not been set, according to court documents.
According to the Gainesville Police report, Mack was northbound on U.S. Highway 441 on Aug. 16, 2019, when she spotted a fuel tanker heading in the opposite direction. The report states she intentionally crossed over into the southbound lane and “drove head-on into oncoming traffic, attempting to crash into a 2006 tanker truck” driven by Paul Dale Hackbarth, who was hauling 330 gallons of gasoline.
When Hackbarth swerved to avoid crashing head-on into Mack’s van, police stated in the report that Mack doubled back with a U-turn, accelerated and rammed into the rear of Hackbarth’s tanker.
Mack’s van caught on fire, trapping her and her two sons inside.
Hackbarth, who was uninjured in the crash, and two witnesses were able to extinguish the fire and pulled Mack and her sons, ages 4 and 6, from the van, according to the police report.
Mack’s children were taken to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville but were not injured. They were later turned over to the Florida Department of Children and Families, the police report stated.
Mack was also uninjured and was booked into the Alachua County jail for three counts of premeditated attempted murder for the children and Hackbarth.
A longtime friend of Mack spoke to her a few hours prior to the crash and told police Mack planned to kill herself and her sons because “it was God’s will,” but “nothing could be done to change the outcome.”