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Arkansas Highway Dept. deems roadway safe after 3 killed in collision

The Arkansas Highway Department has deemed a roadway safe after three people were killed in a collision (Photo: KATV)

Three people were killed Tuesday afternoon in a head-on crash involving two 18-wheelers on Interstate 40 in Carlisle.

On Wednesday, the Arkansas Department of Transportation reported to KATV that wire rope barriers on the interstate are designed to protect drivers.

State police say a truck driven by Jerry Stice, 64, of Westville, Okla., crossed the center line and crashed into a FedEx truck driven by Jesus Escareno, 47, of Houston.

State police say Stice and Escareno died in the collision, along with a passenger in the FedEx truck, Mark Lynch, 55, of Magnolia, Tex.

“What happened yesterday seems to not be congestion related," said Danny Straessle, spokesman for the Department of Transportation. "There has to have something going on with the driver. Medical issue, asleep … Seems like the truck went over the cables in some manner of respect."

Straessle explains the wire rope safety median Stice crossed on I-40 is meant to be a flexible barrier, designed to stretch and absorb the force of a crash. But in Tuesday’s case, he has a theory on why it wasn’t effective.

“What we are seeing here with this is a tractor trailer that appears to have hit it head on as opposed to a 45-degree angle," he said. "One of the cables was snapped clean, so that isn’t the typical angle of departure we are used to seeing in these types of crossovers."

Straessle says the wire rope safety fence is primarily designed to keep passenger vehicles from crossing the median and is not necessarily designed to stop 18-wheelers, although it has in the past.

The highway department once proposed adding a third lane to I-40 just for trucks. It proposed tolls to pay for it, but they have since decided it wasn’t feasible.

Early Tuesday, Larry Williams Trucking posted on their Facebook page that it was Stice's first day on the job. In the Facebook post, the company wished him success as their newest driver.


An official cause of the crash has not been released.

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