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story.lead_photo.caption Three people were killed in a collision between two 18-wheelers on I-40 in Lonoke County on April 24, 2018, officials said.

The Arkansas State Police has identified three truckers killed when two big rigs collided earlier this week on Interstate 40 in Lonoke County.

Mark Lynch, 55, of Magnolia, Texas; Jesus Escareno, 47, of Houston; and Jerry Stice, 64, of Westville, Okla., were pronounced dead at the scene, according to a state police preliminary fatal crash summary.

About 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, Stice was driving one of the trucks east on I-40 near the Carlisle exit. The truck crossed the median, skidded into the westbound lanes and struck the truck driven by Escareno, according to the summary. Lynch was a passenger in the rig driven by Escareno, the summary says.

Photographs from the crash indicate that one truck was from FedEx and the other was from Larry Williams Trucking, based in West Siloam Springs, Okla.

Larry Williams Trucking posted a message on its Facebook page just before noon Tuesday welcoming Stice, a veteran driver, to the company. The post included three photos of Stice, smiling and wearing a black polo shirt tucked into his jeans.

Gallery: 3 killed in I-40 wreck

The post had about two dozen comments by Wednesday afternoon, mostly from people offering prayers for Stice's family and co-workers.

"Just started driving here, how sad, prayers for his family," one person wrote. Another person who identified himself as an employee at the company urged people not to ask questions and to just send along thoughts and prayers.

State police spokesman Bill Sadler said authorities were still investigating the crash Wednesday. He said troopers have three consecutive working days, and sometimes more, to investigate fatal accidents.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation said shortly before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday that all westbound lanes of I-40 were closed and likely would remain so for several hours. The inside eastbound lane also was closed. The other eastbound lane was closed only briefly.

At 10:42 p.m., the department tweeted that the wreckage had been cleared and interstate traffic had resumed.

Danny Straessle, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said Tuesday that it was unclear how the truck had crossed a wire safety barrier in the grass median. He said the truck may have gone airborne at some point. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.

Straessle said Wednesday that department workers would repair the wire barrier, which is designed to prevent cars from entering the opposite lanes of traffic. It's not designed to prevent tractor-trailers from doing so, he said.

"We still have a lot of confidence in the wire safety fence," Straessle said. "It works."

Information for this article was contributed by Rachel Herzog and Gavin Lesnick of Arkansas Online.

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State Desk on 04/26/2018

Print Headline: State police IDs 3 truckers killed in I-40 crash

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