Meridian, MS Van Crash Kills Seven, Nov 1997


Meridian, Miss. (AP) - A van passing through Mississippi apparently en route to Texas crashed into a tree and flipped Wednesday, killing seven people and injuring three others, authorities said.
Five men and two women died in the crash on Interstate 20, said Lauderdale County Coroner Marl Cobler, who called the accident "the worst one I've ever had."
Highway Patrol Sgt. Ronnie Carter said none of the victims were wearing seat belts when the passenger van wrecked about 6:15 a.m. seven miles east of Meridian. The van had crossed the Alabama border just minutes earlier, he said.
"It left the highway, traveled into the median, struck a tree, overturned and some of the occupants were ejected,"
Carter said.
The Border Patrol was trying to help state authorities identify the Hispanic victims, who had no identification. Interpreters were working with the Spanish-speaking survivors, Carter said.
Carter said no one witnesses the accident, which happened in clear weather.
"We feel like speed and fatigue was a factor ... they'd driven all night long," he said.
The coroner's station wagon could not hold all the bodies, so a fire truck assisted in transporting them to the morgue.

The News Leader Staunton Virginia 1997-11-27