AMARILLO, Texas — The deaths of five teenagers in a fiery wreck after their vehicle ran a stop sign and collided with a tanker loaded with fuel affected families throughout the Texas Panhandle, a local official said Tuesday.
“It’s had a big effect on the whole area, and I think it always seems more tragic when you have a loss of life when people are so young,” said Dr. David Bonner, the mayor pro tem of Dumas.
Two of the teens were sisters from Dumas, a town of about 15,000. The others were from a nearby small town.
Authorities say the teens died at the scene. The truck driver, Ezequiel Garcia, was in critical condition Tuesday with burns over 65 percent of his body.
The collision occurred Sunday near Dumas, about 45 miles north of Amarillo. Preliminary reports indicate that alcohol was not a factor, authorities said.
Authorities say Jacob Paul Stipe, 16, of Sunray, was driving when the Chevrolet Cruze went through a stop sign and was hit on the passenger side by the tanker. Stipe was killed, along with Derrek Lee Hager and Christopher Lee Moore, both 17 and from Sunray, and October Dawn Roys, 17, and her younger sister, Elizabeth Kay Roys, 15.
Area schools are on spring break this week, so news of the tragedy hadn’t yet reached many people, Bonner said.
“A lot of people are gone,” he added.
Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Juan Medrano said he did not know where the teens were going when the accident occurred. The investigation continues.
The Texas accident was the second nationwide that happened Sunday involving multiple deaths. Early Sunday, five teens and a young woman were killed in an accident in Ohio.
On Tuesday, the bodies of the two boys and two girls, aged from 15 to 17, were recovered from Forked Creek near the city of Wilmington, about 60 miles southwest of Chicago. Authorities don’t know exactly when the accident happened but the teens had been missing since Monday evening.