Van Buren, AR Tractor Trailer And Auto Crash, Jun 1985



Van Buren, Ark. (AP) - An out-of-control tractor-trailer barreled down a steep hill and rammed a packed station wagon, killing nine people and setting off a fire that destroyed three downtown stores, police said Saturday.
The truck apparently lost its brakes on the hill Friday night before smashing into the station wagon, killing its seven occupants and pushing the vehicle into a store before exploding. The truck driver and his wife also died in the wreck, police said.
The fire took eight hours to extinguish, police said.
"That hill is more than a 45-degree grade, it's almost straight down," said police dispatcher Jon Hill. "By the time you get half-way down, you have no brakes."
The street is lined with restored historic buildings used in the filming of the television mini-series "The Blue and The Gray," about the Civil War.
The truck, carrying meat, bounced across railroad tracks at the bottom of Log Town Hill on Arkansas 59 around 8 p.m. then sped across an intersection and into the station wagon and the stores. The wreckage exploded, sending flames hundreds of feet into the air.
Seven of the dead were identified as WINNIE KAY BURT, 24; BILLY BURT, 30; MRS. BURT'S daughters KRISTIE PARRISH, 8; and BRENNA PARRISH, 4, and members of another family; KATHY OWENBY, 28; RANDY OWENBY, SR., 34; and RANDY OWENBY II, 3. All were of Van Buren.
Dyer identified the occupants of the truck as DAVE R. ATCHLEY, JR., 20, and his wife RAE ATCHLEY, 17, both of Niagara Falls, N.Y.

San Bernardino County Sun California 1985-06-23