The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the accident that brought morning traffic on Highway 169 to a standstill happened just before 7 a.m. Tuesday. On Tuesday night, accident reconstructionists and other investigators are working to find out what caused the wreck at the Bird Creek bridge near 56th street North in Owasso.
"This could have happened on an eight-lane super highway, this was all driver," said Lieutenant George Brown with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
A driver was headed north on the highway near 56th street North, when she suddenly slowed down dramatically and changed lanes. Brenda Buntin, 48, told investigators it was because of debris on the road, possibly a tire.
"I can tell you there was no evidence recovered from the roadway. So we were looking for a tire, didn't find a tire," Brown said.
The OHP says her pickup was struck by a Volkswagen driven by Kimberly Stauffer, 28, of Bixby. An SUV also headed north driven by Jenny Harrison, 33, of Broken Arrow, hit the back of the VW, which then struck Buntin's pickup truck, according to the OHP.
The OHP say a passenger in the VW, Tristan Stauffer, 28, was pronounced dead at the scene. Brenda Buntin and Kimberly Stauffer were taken to an Owasso hospital to be treated for their injuries. All of the people involved in the wreck were wearing seatbelts, according to the OHP.
"This just goes to show how important it is to pay attention to the roadway," said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lieutenant George Brown.
Brown says with vehicles traveling about 60 miles per hour, it equates to 90 feet per second.
"Probably the most important thing, leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle ahead of you," he said.
With the average reaction time for drivers who are alert and on the ball still more than three seconds, Brown says leaving plenty of space between vehicles is crucial.
"If something does happen in the roadway, you have to be able to bring your vehicle to a safe stop, that didn't happen here," he said.
Investigators are looking into several factors, including following too closely, inattentive driving and possibly an improper lane change.
The investigation report will be submitted to the District Attorney who will decide if charges will be filed.
A man who says he witnessed the wreck contacted News On 6 saying he hit the tire that the first driver reported. He says he witnessed the wreck from the ditch on the side of the highway, after pulling off the road because of the damage the tire caused to his vehicle.