Death Toll Climbs In Deadly Turnpike Crash

Friday, June 26th 2009, 4:13 pm
By: News On 6

MIAMI, OK -- A major crash on the Will Rogers Turnpike near Miami has claimed nine lives. 

The highway patrol says traffic was stopped because of one accident when a semi slammed into at least three cars, causing them to crash into more.  Troopers don't believe the semi driver tried to stop before the crash.  He was not one of those killed.

"A semi coming eastbound, a tractor trailer, failed to slow for that crash and struck several vehicles.  As a result of that crash, we've got eight confirmed fatality victims," said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. George Brown.

The death toll advanced to nine on Friday night.

The truck driver was taken to an area hospital, as was a 12-year-old girl who was pinned for a time in a wrecked vehicle before emergency workers could free her.

At one point, traffic was backed up at least four miles.

Video from SkyNews6 showed the semi sitting on top of a minivan and another smaller car.  Rescue crews were using three wreckers to try to pull the truck off of the smaller vehicles.

Meantime, the Emergency Operation Center was on the scene delivering water to motorists stranded on the turnpike due to the wreck.

Jericho Malphrus, 17, was driving with his mom to his hometown of Orient, Ohio, after touring a Bible college in Broken Arrow. He said he saw a young girl being removed from wreckage that contained the bodies of two adults in the front seat.

"Mainly what struck me was the amount of debris everywhere," Malphrus said. "There were clothes and snacks and debris.  Someone's suitcase had busted open and a little girl's clothes were everywhere."

His mother, Jodi Malphrus, said the accident happened about 30 car lengths in front of her on the turnpike.

"It was like somebody had dropped a bomb," she said. "It was horrific."