By Calvin Palmer
A tractor-trailer slammed into a line of cars stopped on Interstate 44 in northeast Oklahoma this afternoon, killing nine people and turning the freeway into a “war zone”.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt George Brown said traffic was stopped on the Will Rogers Turnpike (I-44) northeast of Miami because of an earlier crash when the 18-wheeler drove into at least three cars, which in turn crashed into more vehicles.
“It looks like a war zone,” Brown said. “There’s mangled metal everywhere. There’s debris, fluids, dead bodies.”
Initially the number of dead was put at eight people but a ninth victim was found hours later when tow trucks were finally able to lift the truck from on top of a car that had been crushed underneath.
The victims were named as Ricardo Reyes, 39, of Phoenix, Ariz.; his wife, Ernestina Reyes; Randall Hayes, 38, of Frisco, Texas; Ethan Hayes, 7, of Frisco, Texas; Cynthia Olson, 55, of Crossroads, Texas; and Oral Hooks, 69, Earlene Hooks, 63, Antonio Hooks, 42, and Dione Hooks, 41, all of Oklahoma City. Four other people were injured.
Brown said it did not appear that the driver of the tractor-trailer, Donald Creed, 76, of Willard, Missouri, tried to stop before the crash. Creed survived the crash.
The accident occurred at around 1:00 p.m. northeast of Miami and near the border with Missouri and Kansas.
With traffic at a standstill in temperatures of 100 degrees, emergency crews had to ferry water to motorists.
The eastbound lane was reopened to one lane of traffic shortly after 5:00 p.m.
A criminal investigation is under way, as is routine after a fatal accident, and blood samples were taken from the truck driver, Brown said. There was no indication alcohol was involved, he said.