WASHINGTON — According to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), a deadly crash on Interstate 65 near Greenville, Alabama, was triggered when tractor-trailer failed to stop for slowed/stopped traffic.
NTSB released the report Aug. 3, noting that the information will be “supplemented or corrected during the course of the investigation.”
The crash, which occurred about 2:20 p.m. on June 19, involved 12 vehicles and resulted in the deaths of 10 people. Nine of the 10 dead were children, ranging in age from 9 months to 17 years; the tenth was the 29-year-old father of the 9-month-old. A total of 38 people were involved in the accident; 10 were killed and 26 others sustained injuries.
The area had seen intermittent rain of varying intensity, spawned by Tropical Storm Claudette, throughout the day. A light rain was falling at the time of the crash.
The stretch of I-65 along which the crash occurred is a divided four-lane, asphalt-paved highway with two northbound and two southbound travel lanes, with a posted speed limit of 70 mph. The bridge, which crosses Pigeon Creek, consists of twin bridge structures, each carrying one direction of traffic.
NTSB’s re-creation of the accident shows that a 2020 Volvo tractor, operated by Hansen & Adkins Auto Transport and hauling an empty 2020 Cottrell auto hauler, was traveling north in the right lane of I-65 and approaching a bridge near milepost 138 in Butler County. Traffic north of the bridge had slowed and stopped because of a series of minor crashes.
As the Volvo approached the traffic, it struck a 2020 Ford Explorer occupied by a driver and three passengers. After this impact, the Volvo tractor veered to the left, first striking a Ford F350 transit van occupied by a driver and nine passengers and then impacting other vehicles. The Volvo then struck the left bridge rail and continued into the median beyond the north end of the bridge, coming to rest with a portion of its trailer in the roadway.
After being struck by the Volvo tractor-trailer, the Ford Explorer overturned and struck several other vehicles before coming to a stop in the roadway.
Following this series of collisions, a 2005 Freightliner tractor, operated by Asmat Express and hauling a 2009 dry van, approached the stopped vehicles, veered left, struck and mounted the left bridge rail, and struck the Ford transit van before coming to to rest in the median. The Ford transit van also came to a stop in the median, facing south, between the Volvo and Freightliner rigs.
Several of the vehicles involved in the crash burst into flames. Both tractor-trailers, the Ford transit van and three other vehicles were consumed by the fire.
Eight passengers in the Ford transit van were killed and the driver was injured; two passengers in the Ford Explorer were killed. The driver of the Volvo tractor also sustained injuries.
Hansen & Adkins Auto Transporter is an interstate carrier with 41 terminals throughout the U.S that employs 914 drivers and operates 1,225 tractors; the driver operated out of the company’s Birmingham, Alabama, terminal.
Asmat Express is an interstate carrier based in Clarkston, Georgia; the driver was an owner-operator.
Click here to review NTSB’s preliminary report of the incident.