A head-on collision killed seven people Wednesday on a highway near Elmwood in the Oklahoma Panhandle, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.
The accident occurred about 6:15 a.m. Wednesday on State Highway 412 when a van and a sport utility vehicle collided after the driver of the SUV crossed into oncoming traffic, patrol Capt. Chris West said.
The drivers of both vehicles and five of the six passengers in the van died, West said. The surviving passenger was airlifted to a Texas hospital.
“The lieutenant I talked to said that he had worked in Beaver County for 24 years and he had never seen a crash like that; it was so bad,” trooper Betsy Randolph said. “You can imagine that if you have seven dead in a two-car crash that it is going to be pretty horrific. ... It's heartbreaking.”
Troopers identified the driver of the van as Alejandro Mejia Lopez, 28, and the deceased van passengers as Julio Ramos Perez, 25; Rigoberto Toj Garcia, 24; Julio Cesar Don Juan Morino, 27; Sebastian Sucuqui Saquic, 21; and Juan Lorenzo, 56. They were all residents of Liberal, Kan. The surviving passenger is Francisco Diaz, 36, also of Liberal.
The patrol identified the SUV's driver as Bobby Carroll Matthews, 55, of Woodward.
The occupants of the van were thought to be driving to work at a meatpacking plant in Booker, Texas, from their homes in Kansas, Randolph said.
Representatives from the state medical examiner's office drove to a Beaver funeral home, where the deceased were taken, to start an investigation, she said.
Staff Writer Michael Kimball