Arkansas State Police responded at 8:50 a.m. to two motor vehicle crashes along I-40 between the 259 and 260 mile markers. At least two vehicles are believed to be commercial carrier trucks, troopers said. One was a FedEx truck.
At least one fatality was confirmed in that wreck and recovery crews were still working in the area as of late in the afternoon.
“It’s bad. You know it’s bad," truck driver Jerry Jordan said. "You see wrecks like that happen all the time."
Then at 11:32, troopers were dispatched to a crash scene believed to involve at least three vehicles along I-40 at the 256 mile marker. There are two confirmed fatalities at the second crash scene.
Traffic on Friday afternoon was being diverted from I-40 westbound onto U.S. Highway 70 at the 260 mile marker. It is also diverted from I-40 eastbound at the 256 mile marker onto U.S. Highway 70.
Some drivers said they waited in traffic for two to three hours, even after trying to detour around the crashes.
Arkansas State Police said more information would be available after the preliminary fatal crash summaries are posted and next of kin have been notified.
FedEx sent a statement to WREG saying, "Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of those involved in today’s tragic accident. We are cooperating fully with authorities investigating the accident."
Truck drivers say they were in traffic two to three hours, even after trying to detour around multiple crashes, having to adjust their routes.
They say it's a good reminder to be more cautious on the roads because lives can be changed in just a split second.
"Little tiny mistakes take seconds and cost people their life and cause people to back up for hours," Bob Drury said.
Also caught up in the backup was a mission group headed back to Oklahoma from Memphis.
They finally navigated to a rest stop but with a spirit of gratitude, knowing in the grand scheme of things a minor delay doesn't compare to the suffering many families feel tonight.
"Obviously it's really easy for people to look at an incident like this and say, 'Man this really affects my life because I'm a couple hours late getting back home,' but I ultimately think that's somebody's life, a very serious situation," said Jack Roberts of Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa. "So from Asbury and Tulsa, our prayers go out to whoever's been affected by the wreck."