Family Of Four Killed In Crash

Monday, March 10th 2008, 5:34 pm
By: News On 6

Police investigate a fiery crash that killed a family of four.  It happened Sunday on Highway 69 when the family's sedan was hit from behind by a tractor-trailer.  The News On 6's Chris Wright reports police say the Hayes family of Joplin was just passing through Pryor on their way to Dallas.  Unfortunately, they never made it.

On Monday, a crew was still cleaning up the diesel fuel spilled during Sunday's wreck.  The accident killed 51-year-old Robert Hayes, his 41-year-old wife Melissa, and their sons, 15-year-old Tyler and 14-year-old Colby.

"You have a semi-tractor trailer truck.  You've got a considerable amount more weight than a family sedan has, and the outcome is usually not very good," said Pryor Police Sgt. Brent Crittenden.

Pryor detective Brent Crittenden says the Hayes were sitting at a stop light on Highway 69 when they were hit from behind by the semi.  Their sedan then burst into flames.

The actual collision occurred at a stop light on Highway 69, but because the impact was so powerful, the car ended up a couple hundred yards away down the street in a ditch.

Employees who work across the street at a restaurant ran over to help, but say it was too late.

"By the time we got over there, there was nothing we could do for the family in the car.  The truck driver, we could get him out," said Ashlee Ramsey with Eggbert's.

"I am so proud of my staff because everyone who could do anything ran out there," said Eggbert's owner Jeanie McCombs.

Those employees admit they always worry about semis on that stretch of Highway 69.  They say hundreds of trucks pass through the area every day, often at high speeds.  Still, none have ever seen an accident quite like Sunday's.

"I'm still emotional about it, too.  It shook all of us up, and it really scared a lot of us," said Ashlee Ramsey with Eggbert's.

Some at the restaurant say the accident was so disturbing, they have already sought counseling.

The driver of the semi did survive that crash. 

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has sent a team out to work on reconstructing the accident.  Police say if that reconstruction shows that the truck driver was negligent, he could face charges.