Weatherford, TX Tractor Trailer And Van Crash, Jul 1994
14 CALIFORNIANS KILLED IN CRASH ON TEXAS ROAD.
Special to the Times.
Weatherford, Tex. - Fourteen Los Angeles residents, 12 of them children, were killed in a fiery death trap Sunday when a tractor-trailer slammed into the van they were riding in.
The accident occurred as the van was pulling onto an interstate highway six miles west of this small Texas city outside of Ft. Worth. The force of the collision sent the van careening 500 feet down the roadway, where it burst into flames.
Besides those killed, four others in the van were injured. The driver, identified by the Texas Highway Patrol as CLAUDIA FUNCHES, 47, of Los Angeles, was listed in critical condition at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. Another woman and two children were taken to hospitals in Weatherford and Ft. Worth.
The driver of the tractor-trailer was also injured, but not seriously, authorities said.
The accident was one of the worst in Texas history, while other collisions around the state made it one of the bloodiest days ever on the state's highways. In all, 31 people were killed in three separate crashes.
The Weatherford crash occurred about 9:30 a.m. CDT. According to the Highway Patrol, the 1977 Dodge van was on the side of Interstate 20 after apparently stalling. Officials said FUNCHES, after restarting the car, was apparently moving onto the roadway when the vehicle was hit by the truck driven by RICHIE WARE, 37, of Arlington, Tex.
Almost immediately, the van burst into flames as the force of the impact pushed it onto the highway median after striking a guardrail, leaving a trail of clothing.
The first to arrive at the scene was Mark Baker, a member of the nearby Greenwood Fire Department. He said he could see smoke and fire billowing from the median from two miles away. Baker said the truck driver pulled FUNCHES and two children from the van and then apparently tried to douse the fire with two fire extinguishers.
Baker said he poured 300 gallons of water on the burning vehicle before other fire engines arrived. He said he was unaware there were others inside the wreckage until he was told by another firefighter.
Mike Cox, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said truck drivers stopped and helped a boy who stuck his head out a window, screaming for help because he was on fire. Cox said the truck drivers threw water on the boy, but the effort was in vain.
Texas authorities gave South Main Street as the Los Angeles address of Claudia Funches. Members of her family, gathered inside her apartment, declined to talk to the news media.
In addition to the Weatherford crash, 11 people were killed when a tractor-trailer slammed broadside into a pickup truck near the West Texas town of Snyder.
Another six died in a crash near Ballinger, also in West Texas. That also involved a tractor-trailer rig.
Los Angeles Times California 1994-07-04
Listing of injuries and casualties:
TREVOR SIMPSON, 10.
NICHOLAS SIMPSON, 9.
ROCHELLE WINCE, 2.
ROCHELLE CUMMINGS, 1.
JOVANEA RIVAS, 1.
HENRIELLA FUNCHES, 30.
LAVAR FUNCHES, 7.
LATRICIA FUNCHES, 6.
DANISHA FUNCHES, 5.
DARREN FUNCHES, 5.
ERIC BELL, 7 months.
KATHERINE DEAL, 28.
LASHAWN WINGFIELD, 11.
MICHAEL JOHNSON, 10.
CLAUDIA FUNCHES, 47.
NICOLE FUNCHES, her daughter.
GREG BELL, 4.
RICKY WINCE, 4.