Investigation of Deadly I-35 Fort Worth Pileup Could Focus on Deicing, Speed
Authorities in Fort Worth, Texas, are still working to determine what led to last Thursday’s fatal chain-reaction crash along Interstate 35 West involving 133 vehicles, including a FedEx truck and more than a dozen other 18-wheelers.
At the moment, it appears that the investigation will focus on at least two factors:
- Efforts to prevent ice from forming on the roadway amidst a massive winter storm that brought sleet and freezing rain to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex that morning.
- The speed at which many of the vehicles involved in the crash were traveling.
Fort Worth Chain-Reaction Crash Claimed 6 Lives, Injured Dozens
Witnesses to the deadly February 12th accident reported the roadway was covered in a sheet of ice. Video also shows the FedEx 18-wheeler losing control on a downhill slope, plowing into a barrier and colliding with several vehicles. Other cars, pickup trucks, and tractor-trailers proceeded to collide with the FedEx truck and each other.
Six people between the ages of 34 and 54 died in the crash. Two of the deceased were from Fort Worth, two were from other parts of Texas, and one was from Hawaii. It’s not yet known where the sixth victim resided.
Paramedics transported 36 people to local hospitals. Another 65 sought medical treatment on their own, either at the scene or at nearby emergency rooms.
Many of those caught up in the accident were healthcare workers heading to their jobs. Four police officers — three on their way to work and one dispatched to the crash — were among the injured, but all have since been treated and released.
NTE Mobility Partners Responsible for Deicing I-35 Toll Lanes
So far, it’s not clear what exactly triggered last Thursday’s accident. But some are now questioning efforts by North Tarrant Express Mobility Partners – the private company that operates the I-35 toll lanes – to keep the interstate free of ice.
“This horrific tragedy warrants full investigation at the local, state, and federal levels, and I have personally directed the NTE to produce documentation on weather treatments, which I have yet to see,” State Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, said in an email to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Texans deserve all the facts, and they must be brought to light swiftly.”
According to a spokesperson for the company, NTE crews had been “spot treating” the entire I-35 corridor that morning. Weather radar showed a small shower of freezing rain in the vicinity of I-35W near Northside Drive around the time of the crash.
Some Vehicles Involved in I-35 Pileup were Traveling at Max Speed
It’s likely speed also played a role in the crash.
While the posted speed limit on that stretch of roadway is 75 mph, navigating icy conditions requires that motorists significantly reduce their speed. But videos of the accident suggests at least some of the 18-wheelers and cars involved in the accident had been traveling near or at the speed limit.
“Why are people going the maximum speed if the weather is bad?” Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, asked during an interview with the Star-Telegram. “This is really a wake-up call to address speeding. We’ve got to have a national priority on speeding, just as we did with drunk driving years ago.”
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