NTSB Investigating Fatal I-35 Pileup Involving Multiple 18-Wheelers that Left 6 Dead in Fort Worth, Texas
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has opened an investigation into the fatal pileup that tragically killed six people along Interstate 35 West in Fort Worth, Texas last Thursday morning.
The investigation was announced yesterday and will focus on snow and ice treatment procedures used on that stretch of highway.
More than a Dozen 18-Wheelers Involved in 133-Vehicle Crash
The massive crash occurred shortly after 6:00 a.m. on February 12th, and involved 133 vehicles, including more than a dozen 18-wheelers. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex was under a winter weather advisory at the time, and radar indicates that a small shower of freezing rain was falling in the area where the crash occurred. According to witnesses, the interstate was covered with a thin sheet of ice.
“The roadway was so treacherous from the ice that several of the first responders were falling on the scene,” Matt Zavadsky, a spokesman for MedStar Mobile Healthcare, told the Associated Press.
It’s not yet known exactly how the pileup began. But a video shows a FedEx 18-wheeler losing control on a downhill slope, plowing into a barrier, and colliding with several vehicles. Other cars, pickup trucks, and more 18-wheelers proceeded to collide with the FedEx truck and each other. The accident scene would eventually stretch across a mile-and-a-half of highway.
Six people died in the I-35 crash, including five from the Fort Worth area and another from Hawaii. Thirty-six others were rushed to local hospitals, and 65 sought treatment on their own, either at the scene or nearby emergency rooms.
North Tarrant Express Mobility Partners Responsible for Treating I-35 Corridor
The NTSB is coordinating with North Tarrant Express Mobility Partners and the Texas Department of Transportation on the investigation.
North Tarrant Express is a private company that operates the I-35 toll lanes. Since last week’s crash, some have questioned the effectiveness of its efforts to keep the highway 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.”
Texas roads are treated with brine, a heavily salted liquid.
“NTE & NTE35W maintenance crews started pre-treating the corridors on Tuesday morning in anticipation of inclement weather and have been treating continuously as they monitor the roadway,” North Tarrant Express said in a statement to WFAA in Dallas last week.
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