UPDATED: Three now confirmed dead in crash on I-75 near Corbin Friday
Rescue workers attempt to free occupants of this Ford Explorer, involved in a two-vehicle crash on I-75 at the 18.5 mile marker Friday. Three people died in the accident.
A two-vehicle crash on I-75 just south of Corbin Friday afternoon has claimed the lives of three people and a fourth had to be airlifted from the scene. All four were riding inside the same vehicle.
Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley said that two of the victims were adults and another was possibly under the age of 18.
Two victims died at the scene and another was pronounced dead at Baptist Regional Medical Center in Corbin.
He said one of the victims was deceased when first responders arrived and a second quit breathing shortly after ambulance workers arrived.
A fourth victim in that vehicle, who was apparently under the age of 16 years old, was flown out from the scene by an Air Evac Lifeteam emergency medical helicopter.
Goldbug Volunteer Fire Chief Dorman Patrick Jr. said that the accident was among the worst that he has worked.
"There is extensive damage to the vehicles. Any time there is a fatality, that is definitely a priority type of call," he said.
The accident happened at about 2:40 p.m. near I-75 mile marker 18.5 in the northbound lanes.
A Toyota Tundra collided with a red Ford Explorer. The Tundra came to rest partially in the fast lane of traffic and on the left shoulder.
The Explorer flipped at least once and came to rest in the median leaving a debris field of at least 100 feet in length. The force of the accident caused severe damage to the vehicle and knocked off the driver's side front tire.
So far officials don't know what caused the accident. Kentucky State Police and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement officers also responded to the scene in an attempt to reconstruct the accident.
The occupants of the Tundra were transported by Whitley County EMS to Baptist Regional Medical Center.
Names of the victims have not yet been released.
The wreck had the northbound lane of travel at least partially shut down for over two hours. Firefighters with the Goldbug Fire Department, Williamsburg Fire Department and Oak Grove Fire Department worked to free victims from the wreckage.
Rockholds Volunteer Fire Department helped divert traffic off I-75 at Exit 15.
Patrick said that rescue efforts were complicated by traffic and extremely hot weather conditions.
"Traffic was one of the biggest problems as far as initial response to the scene," Patrick said. "Both southbound and northbound lanes were at a standstill within one to two miles of the scene.
"The heat was definitely a factor. It was 90 plus degrees. Everybody was trying to stay hydrated with bottled water. It wasn't cold but it was better than nothing. We tried to keep all the firefighters hydrated so they could keep their work efforts up and keep the task accomplished."
Patrick estimated that 25 rescue workers were involved in the extrication in addition to other emergency personnel, who helped with traffic control.
"Everybody has done a good job and have worked together. I feel sorry for the families involved but everybody has done a good job working together," Patrick added.
Patrick said that every occupant in the Explorer had to be extricated.
After the last victim was extricated from the vehicle, a fire department chaplain led first responders in a prayer for the victims.
All the victims died from multiple injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. No autopsy is planned, but routine toxicology tests will be done on the drivers, Croley said.
No drug or alcohol involvement is suspected at this time, he added.
KSP Trooper Staci Walker assisted at the scene along with Whitley County Sheriff's Deputy Ken Shepherd and Deputy Cody Harrell.
Check back often to www.thenewsjournal.net for more information as it becomes available.
All fields but Phone Number are required to submit a comment, but contact information is for internal communication only.