On Tuesday afternoon around 2 p.m., four commercial trucks and two passenger vehicles collided in a fatal accident. According to one witness, one of the tractor-trailers had two passenger vehicles behind it when it began to slow down in traffic. Another truck then collided into the back of one of the passenger vehicles, which pushed it into the car in front of it and then into the other big rig. A fire immediately broke out.
“There was immediate fire. Everything caught, immediately after hitting those two vehicles,” said the witness. Another witness who was working nearby said it sounded like a train accident. “There was a guy on fire trying to come out of the truck and he got around to where the gas tank is. We tried to get him out when there was the explosion,” he said. “I was walking away when I saw the car under the 18-wheeler and I saw someone trying to come out of the back, toward the driver side and I just saw feet when there was another explosion.”
Officials are currently attempting to identify the victims of the crash. Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton stated that because of the vehicles’ velocity, it’s been difficult to identify just how many passengers were in those vehicles because it had become mangled beneath the wreckage. At least three have been reported as dead, one of whom was a truck driver and one whom was in the passenger vehicles. Two occupants were able to escape.
“It was obviously a very bad wreck…lots and lots of fire and thick black smoke, and it was almost impossible for anyone to survive,” said Assistant Waco Fire Chief Chris Pechacek. “From the fire side, we responded with 13 units, about 40 people, which is almost unheard of, but the magnitude of the incident dictated that.”
Both directions of Highway 6 to McLane Stadium were shut down following the wreck. The southbound lanes were reopened by 4:30 p.m. and the northbound lanes were cleared Tuesday night. According to TxDOT inspectors, the flyover bridge that crosses from Valley Mills Drive to I-35 also suffered damage from the collision. The pass was temporarily re-opened; however, chunks of concrete began to fall as cars passed over so it was re-closed. It will remain closed until additional inspections can be completed on Wednesday.