DERMOTT — Five people were killed and five others injured Monday after a large truck collided with a van belonging to a school serving disabled adults in southeast Arkansas, authorities said.
The crash occurred at about 2:45 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 65 and Arkansas 35, just east of Dermott in the northwest corner of the county, according to a preliminary report from Arkansas State Police. A 2018 Ford traveling west on Arkansas 35 attempted to cross over the U.S. 65 southbound lanes but failed to yield to the approaching 18-wheeler.
The front of the commercial vehicle then struck the right side of the Ford, causing both vehicles to travel off the west side of the highway and come to a rest on the roadside, the report states
Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said Tuesday the van belonged to C.B. King Memorial School, a nonprofit that provides services in several southeastern Arkansas counties to people with developmental delays or disabilities, according to its website.
"Our C B King Family is hurting tonight," the school's director of programs, Lora Medina, said in a statement Monday. "We don't have the words right now to express our pain. The Adult Center in Arkansas City will be closed for now as we process what has happened."
All five people who died were passengers in the Ford, according to the report. Troopers said they were identified as Regina Jackson, 65; Terry King, 56; Tommy Figures, 50; and Brayshawn Ranson, 19, all of Dermott; and Geraldine Prewitt, 73, of McGehee.
Four others in the Ford were injured: driver Susan Kennedy, 47, of Arkansas City; and passengers Cebra Jordan, 25; Robert Bell, 21; and Zantress Willis, 18, all of Dermott, the report states.
Charles Fowler, 52, of Brinkley, was identified as the driver of the 18-wheeler and was also injured, according to authorities.
The injured were taken to hospitals in McGehee, Lake Village and Little Rock. The report didn't indicate the nature of the victims' injuries.
State police will assign a reconstruction team to try to determine what led to the collision, Sadler said.
"At this juncture in the investigation, it appears that the driver of the van did not see the oncoming traffic," Sadler said Tuesday morning.
Sadler added that afternoon, “All crashes that result in a fatality cross a prosecuting attorney’s desk for a review.”
Dave Parker, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Transportation, said on Tuesday afternoon that he was still awaiting an official report about the crash history at the intersection of U.S. 65 and Arkansas 35.
“I was told that there is a yield sign at the intersection,” Parker said, “The intersection is at about a 45 degree angle. It’s not a subtle crossing.”
According to Parker, the highway department worked on the intersection in August of 2018 where the intersection’s skew was realigned.
“The intersection was changed to make it so people have to stop and look,” said Parker.
Information for this article was contributed by Remington Miller of the Democrat-Gazette and by I.C. Murrell of the Pine Bluff Commercial.