JACKSON, Miss. — A crash that killed eight people in Mississippi last month happened after a box truck crossed the center line of a two-lane rural highway and struck a van, according to a federal report issued Wednesday.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report confirms what the van driver, Alejandro Estrejo Resendiz, told The Associated Press hours after the June 3 wreck near Scooba — that he swerved but the truck hit the van.
All eight of the people killed were passengers in the van and they weren’t wearing seatbelts. The van was owned by Sharp Forestry in Columbus, Mississippi. It departed from Macon, Mississippi, where the workers lived, and was taking them to Monroeville, Alabama, to cut trees. The crash happened before dawn on a bridge that’s about a 20-minute drive outside Macon.
The report says the Mississippi Highway Patrol ticketed the van driver for not having a driver’s license.
The AP left messages for two highway patrol spokesman Wednesday to ask whether additional charges have been brought against anyone involved in the wreck. Those calls were not immediately returned.
The truck was owned by Overnight Parts Alliance, based in Birmingham, Alabama. The NTSB report says the company operates 85 trucks, has 91 drivers and nine reportable crashes in the past two years. The 28-year-old truck driver had a noncommercial Alabama driver’s license and a valid medical certificate. While the NTSB did not identify either of the drivers, the Mississippi Highway Patrol previously identified the truck driver as Steven McKinney of Goodhope, Alabama.
The NTSB says “all aspects” of the crash remain under investigation by the federal agency and by the highway patrol.
Four of the van passengers who were killed were brothers.
Hours after the wreck, Resendiz told an AP reporter that he had been driving in his lane and tried to avoid the truck but couldn’t.
“At the moment I tried to swerve, get over to the side, the truck hit me,” he said through a translator.
The truck pushed the van backward into the guardrail, where it came to rest. The asphalt was gouged, and metal guardrails were bent.
Asked if he felt lucky to be alive, he said, “It was a miracle.”