OHP: Semi That Plunged Into River Was Trying To Avoid Hitting Pileup

New details emerged after the 22-vehicle pileup in Oklahoma City on November 26. OHP says that the driver of a semi-truck who died was trying to avoid hitting other vehicles.

Monday, November 27th 2023, 6:42 pm

By: News 9, Chris Yu


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The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said it appeared the semi driver who died in a 22-vehicle pileup in Oklahoma City was trying to avoid hitting the other vehicles that had already crashed.

The pileup happened around 1 a.m. Sunday on the westbound lanes of I-40 at the I-35/Fort Smith junction.

OHP said of the 22 vehicles involved, 15 were passenger cars and seven were commercial motor vehicles, such as tractor-trailers. One of the semis went through a concrete barrier and plunged into the North Canadian River, killing the driver, said OHP. The name of the victim had not been released as of Monday evening as troopers worked to inform relatives.

"It's a very difficult investigation obviously piecing all those details together," said Trooper Preston Cox.

Cox said the semi that plunged into the river was one of the last wrecks to occur during the pileup, leading investigators to believe the driver was trying to avoid hitting the other vehicles that had crashed. As of Monday afternoon, crews were still working to pull out the wreckage of the tractor-trailer from the water.

While troopers continued to investigate what led up to the pileup, Cox said weather played a significant role, causing slick roads. "Speed was also a determining factor on this," said Cox. "I do know that the posted speed limit for that area is 60 miles per hour and where the collision occurred, there are warning signs for a sharp turn."

Cox said as of Monday, troopers were still gathering information on the 22 vehicles involved and putting the details into an accident report.

"They're still recreating everything that occurred," Cox said. "Obviously around the holidays, we ask people to, just like any other time, to take your time. When there is weather that comes in, obviously, you're going to have to take a little more time and be a little bit more defensive in your driving mechanisms."

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