Officials have released more details in the ongoing investigation of the collision that killed six high school students Tuesday in Tishomingo and left the community stricken with grief.
All six teenage girls died after a Peterbilt tractor-trailer hauling gravel collided with the students’ Chevrolet Spark at the intersection of U.S. 377 and State Highways 22 and 99. Only the 16-year-old driver and the front passenger of the Chevrolet Spark, designed to seat four people, were wearing seatbelts. The driver of the tractor-trailer also wore a seatbelt and was uninjured.
Highway patrol officials initially withheld the identities of the teenagers who died in the crash, but families and loved ones have shared obituaries with local funeral homes.
The victims of the deadly crash were 15-year-old Jessica Grace “Gracie” Machado; 15-year-old Austin Daniella Holt; 15-year-old Brooklyn Enae Triplett; 16-year-old Madison Patience Michelle Robertson; 17-year-old Addison Joe “AJ” Gratz; and 17-year-old Memory Jade Billy Wilson.
Funeral services for five of the six victims are scheduled Monday through Wednesday. Staff at DeArman-Clark Funeral Home said that, as of Friday afternoon, Triplett's family was still undecided on when and where to hold her ceremony.
A preliminary report, released Thursday by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the National Transportation Safety Board, said the Chevrolet Spark was traveling east on State Highway 22 at the same time the tractor-trailer was traveling south on U.S. 377.
Witnesses told investigators the girls’ Chevrolet made a “rolling stop” at the stop sign before turning left onto U.S. 377. The tractor-trailer then collided with the front-left of the Chevrolet, pushing it southwest off the roadway. The tractor-trailer ran off the highway and into a private driveway.
Inspection of the vehicles yielded corroborating results fairly quickly, Trooper Eric Foster said.
“Every vehicle after a certain year and make has airbag control modules, and they’re little computers that track a lot of different data within the car,” Foster said. “They track RPMs, wheel speeds, changes in motion and direction by the millisecond. Their intent is to control the airbags so that they deploy at a quick enough speed at a hard enough impact. And they were able to pull that from the Chevrolet, read that and analyze the data off of it.”
Information from that “data event recorder” produced a report that was “consistent with witness statements,” according to investigators.
Details on the speed both vehicles were traveling at the time of the collision were not yet available, but the posted speed limit on U.S. 377 is 50 mph.
The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team of four additional investigators and a family assistance specialist to Tishomingo on Wednesday. The team will further look into various factors related to the crash, including roadway conditions, highway infrastructure, accident histories, on-scene reconstruction of the events and the conditions of the drivers involved before the accident.
“The NTSB doesn’t normally work motor vehicle crashes, because that’s something that the Oklahoma Highway Patrol does,” Foster said. “They normally work airplane and train crashes. But since this was the way it was, involving a commercial motor vehicle that falls under federal statute, it just felt like it was a good idea to have expertise from everywhere.”
The team of federal inspectors is expected to finish onsite work by Monday, but the full investigation could take between one and two years to complete.
Since the NTSB announcement of developments in the case, a news conference originally planned by local law enforcement and school administrators for Wednesday has been postponed.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Tishomingo car wreck victims' funerals announced, more details given