On March 26, a tractor-trailer loaded with auto parts crossed a highway median and collided head-on into a van carrying a Mennonite family, resulting in 11 people suffering fatal personal injuries on a hilly stretch of interstate in Kentucky not long before dawn.
Among the victims were an engaged couple and several members of their family, whose house burned down in December. The lone survivors of the crash, which occurred approximately 75 miles south of Louisville, were two children in the van.
After striking the van, the truck collided with a rock wall and burst into flames. The driver, who was the only occupant of the vehicle, also died in the crash.
According to Leroy Kauffman, a pastor for the family, they were en route to a wedding in Iowa.
The wreck was the deadliest single accident in the state of Kentucky since a 1988 crash in which a drunken driver collided with a church bus carrying a youth group, resulting in 27 fatalities.
Kauffman said the family was from Burkesville, Kentucky.
Among the dead were John and Sadie Esh, their children, Anna, Rose, Rachel, and Leroy Esh, Leroy Esh’s wife, Naomi Esh, an adopted son of Leroy and Naomi Esh, Jalen Esh, Rachel Esh’s fiancé, Joel Gingerich, and family friend Ashlie Kramer. The name of the truck driver, an Alabama resident, was not immediately made available.
According to Ann Gibson, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, crews installed cable barriers last year on the stretch of highway where the crash occurred in order to prevent vehicles from crossing the median. However, National Transportation Safety Board vice chairman Christopher Hart said cable barriers are unable to withstand the force of a truck that size.