Arkansas State Police have identified one of the victims of Wednesday night's series of crashes on Interstate 30 near Caddo Valley, and they have reported that at least 11 people were transported to hospitals after the pileup.
George Thomas Adamson III, 65, of Hope died in the multiple crashes on Interstate 30. According to a state police report, Adamson was westbound on I-30 when he attempted to avoid another accident. His vehicle left the north side of the highway around the 85-mile marker and struck a tree, according to the report.
State police have accounted for 11 people who were transported to hospitals in the area as of Thursday morning. One of the injured was reported to be in critical condition, said Bill Sadler, spokesman for the state police, in an email.
2:37 p.m.: Westbound I-30 lane reopens after fatal pileup near Caddo Valley, officials say
One westbound lane on Interstate 30 near Caddo Valley has reopened after several crashes Wednesday that killed at least three people and involved at least a dozen vehicles, according to officials.
The Arkansas Department of Transportation reported the reopening in a Twitter post on Thursday around 2:30 p.m.
2:18 p.m.: I-30 remains blocked after pileup that killed 3 near Caddo Valley, officials say
Westbound lanes of Interstate 30 remained blocked Thursday afternoon as the state Department of Transportation worked to repave the interstate following several crashes Wednesday that killed at least three people and involved at least a dozen vehicles.
State police had no updates yet on the number of fatalities or injuries caused by the wreck but agency spokesman Bill Sadler said everyone had been accounted for.
Crews are still on site assisting those in need and most of those not driving 18-wheelers were able to get off I-30, according to Dave Parker, Transportation Department spokesman.
Parker said traffic was still being diverted on I-30 westbound at mile marker 98 but the state department of transportation was about to remove the last damaged tractor and begin repairing and repaving the road. According to Parker, the fire from the crash melted the pavement.
As of Thursday morning, Parker said they hoped to have at least one lane of westbound I-30 open by early afternoon.
Shannon Newton, the president of the Arkansas Trucking Association, said in an email that truck drivers may have chosen to sleep in their vehicles instead of driving around the accident once the scene was safe in order to comply with federal regulations. According to her, professional drivers have to follow hours-of-service regulations that ensure they are well-rested before driving. Slow traffic could cause that time to run out, which Newton said could give drivers the options of parking where they are or operating illegally until they find safe parking.
“Unexpected congestion like the hours-long backup on I-30 this week affects all drivers, but while I may run out of gas or miss my meetings, truck drivers are legally required to stop operating after 14 hours on the clock to comply with federal rules,” said Newton.
The pileup started as a two-vehicle crash about 30 miles south of Hot Springs, which the Transportation Department said was a minor wreck. Parker said it may have been weather-related, as rain had begun and lowered visibility.
The crash led to a chain reaction of at least a dozen vehicles colliding, including multiple 18-wheelers.
Karla Denton, a Bryant residen, recorded video of the wreck Wednesday around 12:30 p.m. as she was heading home from visiting family.
“I could see smoke in the air ahead but thought it was possibly a brush fire. Traffic was moving normally, but the roads were wet. Within a minute I could see what was clearly a horrible wreck with the trucks in front of the pile-up on fire. Traffic started to slow down as the fire grew larger,” said Denton in a Facebook message.
According to her, she was able to feel the heat from the fire on the other side of the interstate and she heard explosions as she drove by.
“I saw how many vehicles were involved, the first responders and others who were trying to help, and it just broke my heart. I actually got emotional and got off at the next exit,” Denton said. “I knew there would be casualties in what I saw. I posted the video on Facebook to let people be aware and to avoid that direction so first responders could get there faster and safer.”
She said her father used to be a truck driver and she knew that this was a nightmare for the families of the drivers involved.