ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky State Police were investigating whether distracted driving caused a tractor-trailer to plow into an SUV carrying eight people on Saturday, killing six and possibly triggering a serious crash on the opposite side of the highway.
The truck driver is "telling us that he saw the vehicle that was in front of him and he hit the brakes and he didn't hit them in time," Master Trooper Norman Chaffins said. " ... There was a reason for that and we're trying to figure out what the reason was."
The late-morning crash was followed 15 minutes later by a multi-vehicle crash on the opposite side of Interstate 65 that injured three people. The site was just 15 miles from where 11 people died in 2010 when a tractor-trailer crossed the median and hit a van carrying a Mennonite family. Ten people in the van were killed along with the truck driver and the National Transportation Safety Board determined the truck driver was distracted by his cell phone.
Chaffins said despite snow flurries, weather was not a factor in Saturday's crashes. The driver was identified as 47-year-old Ibrahim Fetic of Troy, Mich. Police were looking at his driving logs and collected a blood sample.
The six killed were identified as members of an extended family from Marion, Wis.
They were identified as driver James Gollnow, 62, and his wife, Barbara Gollnow, 62; Marion Champnoise, 92, a friend; Sarina Gollnow, 18, relationship unknown; and foster children Gabriel Zumig, 10, and Soledad Smith, 8.
The two survivors were also foster children. Police identified them as Hope Hoth, 15, who was transported to a hospital in Lexington with burns and a broken spine; and Aidian Ejnik, 12, who was taken to Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville with cuts to the back of his head.