In a tragic accident recently, a tractor-trailer crossed an Interstate median and crashed into a community college softball team bus, killing four of the players. Sadly, it appears the 18-wheel truck driver didn’t attempt to brake at all or move out of the way before the collision.
The accident happened near Davis, Oklahoma, where the North Central Texas College softball team was coming home Friday night from a scrimmage with the team from Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma. The trucker was driving northbound on Interstate 35 at a point where the highway curves to the right, but the truck continued moving straight. The truck traveled 800 feet straight into the bus, driven by the team coach, badly damaging the driver’s side of the bus. The accident happened at about 9:00 p.m.
Three of the players, aged 18-20, were killed at the scene, and the fourth woman died in a hospital in Sulphur, Oklahoma. Two players were hospitalized at the Oklahoma University Medical Center, one in critical condition and one in fair condition. All of those who survived the crash, in both vehicles, were injured to some extent.
Robert Sumwalt, an official with the National Transportation Safety Board, told Fox News that additional evidence showed the truck had to be traveling at high speed: “Even after smashing into the driver side of the bus, the truck continued straight for another 300 feet.” Fox reported. The NTSB said it investigated the truck’s brakes and found no problems with them.
The NTSB is working with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to investigate the accident. Officials obtained search warrants for the bus and the truck and toxicology reports will be ordered on both drivers.
The Dallas Morning News reports that the driver told officials that something inside the truck’s cabin had distracted him, but more details were not released. The driver is a 53-year-old from Saginaw, Texas. After being treated, he was released from the hospital in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.
Quickway Transportation of Nashville, Tennessee is the truck’s operator. The company has had a good safety record in recent years according to federal data. Quickway’s president posted a statement on its website expressing sympathy for the families. The statement said the company is cooperating with the investigation.