Speed, Inattention Likely in Deadly Fort Worth 18-Wheeler Crash

Speed and driver inattention likely played significant roles in the deadly 18-wheeler crash that claimed the lives of five people in Fort Worth over the past weekend.

The fatal collision involved a big rig that burst into flames in the early-morning hours of Sunday near I-30 and Oakland Boulevard. The Ryder tractor-trailer was carrying copies of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper under a contract maintained by The Dallas Morning News.

According to witness reports, several Good Samaritans stopped to assist victims of an earlier minor accident when the 18-wheeler plowed through the group. The highway was shut down for several hours as rescue workers attempted to assist the survivors and road crews cleared the fatal crash site.

The victims who have been identified thus far by the Tarrant County medical examiner are Fort Worth residents Veronica Gonzalez, 43, and Mary Hernandez, 43. Relatives of Steve Franklin have confirmed that he also was killed. Ms. Gonzales reportedly was on her way home from her engagement party at the time of the crash.

In all, four victims died at the scene according to an ambulance company spokesperson, with the other victim later passing away at a local hospital. A total of 10 people suffered minor injuries, while one remains in critical condition and another in serious condition.

A Fort Worth Fire Department lieutenant was quoted as saying the tractor-trailer was already ablaze when firefighters arrived at the scene, explaining that such fires can result from crashes at highway speeds. Earlier this week, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pledged that the agency would push for mandatory speed-limit devices to be installed on all big rigs in order to prevent them from traveling faster than 65 mph.

This horrible wreck is a solemn reminder of the enormous devastation that can result from a highway crash involving 18-wheelers and other heavy trucks. Our prayers go out to the Gonzalez, Hernandez and Franklin families and the others involved in this tragedy.