Tishomingo crash kills 6 female teen students as they sought to make U-turn on Oklahoma highway only to be hit by Valendon Burton semi truck driver who survived un-injured.
Six teenage girls on a high school lunch break were killed when their vehicle equipped with only four seats collided with a semi truck hauling rocks while making a U-turn, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Wednesday.
Only the 16-year-old car’s driver and front-seat passenger were wearing seat belts when the 2015 Chevrolet Spark collided with the truck Tuesday afternoon, according to the OHP.
Valendon Burton, 51, of Burneyville, Oklahoma was identified as the driver of the truck according to the OHP. Burton was wearing a seatbelt at the time and was not injured as a result of the crash. It remained unclear if charges would be filed.
The crash occurred in Tishomingo, a rural city of about 3,000 located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Oklahoma City, the highway patrol said. Those killed included the 16-year-old driver, three 15-year-olds, and two 17-year-old passengers, the highway patrol said.
Identified as the victims were; Gracie Machado, Brooklyn Triplett, Austin Holt, Madison Robertson, Addison Gratz and Memory Wilson.
Students were returning from lunch break
The force of the crash moved the car about approximately 300 feet from the intersection, KXII-TV reported, leaving it in a mangled mess with doors and ripped off.
Tishomingo Public School Superintendent Bobby Waitman told AP that the six were on a break for lunch at the time of the crash, which occurred about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from Tishomingo High School.
Students in the district of about 850 students were in class Wednesday, Waitman said.
‘Academics are secondary, frankly, at this point to the students knowing that they belong, that they have a safe place,’ Waitman said. ‘You’ll never fully understand, I don’t think we’ll ever fully understand a loss like this,’ Waitman added.
Anatomy of a Car Crash-
6 teenage girls, all students at Tishomingo HS, near OKC, were killed after their car collided with a semi truck
6 teenage girls in one car
A car that holds 4
Having the time of their lives
Then… one mistake
R.I.P. young ladies ✝️ pic.twitter.com/UUL88n4h2o
— EdoIsHip❁ ~🇺🇸~ (@HipIsEdo) March 23, 2022
Crash remained under investigation
Four of the girls, including the driver, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, according to the OHP report. The other two girls died after being transported to the hospital.
The crash report, released Wednesday morning, said the circumstances of the wreck remained under investigation. But OHP Trooper Shelby Humphrey said Tuesday night that the girls’ car was making a right turn when it collided with the truck, KXII-TV reported. It remained unclear if the U-turn was legal.
A National Transportation Safety Board team of investigators, including people specializing in highway factors, motor carrier operations and crash reconstruction, was going to the scene, according to NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson, as well as a liaison between investigators and surviving families.
Waitman said funeral services for the students were not yet scheduled and that the district would work with their families to potentially schedule a memorial service on campus.
The crash happened one week after nine people were killed — including six members of a New Mexico college’s golf team and their coach — in a crash in West Texas. In that crash, the National Transportation Safety Board determined that a 13-year-old boy was behind the wheel of a truck when it crossed the centerline and collided with a van carrying students from the University of the Southwest golf team.