Four people were injured and hundreds stuck in traffic early Tuesday morning when heavy smoke apparently resulted in a multi-vehicle crash just east of Prescott.
According to Arkansas State Police Corporal Aaron Easley, at around 12 a.m. Tuesday, July 8, a semi traveling east on I-30 at the 43 mile marker lost its turbo, sending thick smoke out of the vehicle, obstructing visibility and setting off a chain reaction that resulted in multiple high-speed collisions. A second semi that was traveling behind the first one when it began pouring out smoke slowed to almost a stop in the left lane. The driver said the smoke was so thick he couldn’t see to the front of his hood.
As the second truck reduced its speed, a gray Ford F-350 and a gray Chrysler 200 both struck the rear of the trucks trailer. A fourth vehicle struck the Chrysler after it crashed into the trailer.
The Ford crashed into the left rear of the trailer, destroying the pickup and sending it into the median. According to statements from law enforcement and emergency responders, only one man occupied the truck. The man was apparently injured but was said to have walked away from the crash. He was transported by ambulance to Christus Saint Michael Health System in Texarkana.
Corporal Easley said the Chrysler crashed into the right rear of the trailer and then was hit from behind by a white Chevrolet Cobalt. Both vehicles came to a stop in the right lane. The male driver was the only occupant in the Chrysler and was severely injured and entrapped in his decimated car.
EMTs and paramedics from Nevada County Ambulance Service and Pafford EMS worked to stabilize the driver while firefighters from Prescott Fire Department and Nevada County Fire and Rescue worked to disentangle him from the car. The driver was finally freed and moved to an ambulance to be stabilized before being transferred to the LifeNet Helicopter that landed on the closed interstate. He was flown to St. Michaels.
The driver and passenger of the Cobalt were also transported to St. Michael. During the aftermath of the crash, the couple’s dogs got loose and ran off. If you see a Dalmatian and Pit Bull near Prescott, contact Prescott Police Department at 870-887-6779 so the dogs can be returned to their owners.
The traffic on I-30 backed up about five miles during the two and a half hours the highway was shut down. Arkansas State Police finished their initial investigation of the scene so crews could clear the vehicles and debris from the roadway. Law enforcement began letting traffic through at about 2:30 a.m.
Corporal Easley, Trooper Brock Neatherly and Sergeant Darren Neal of the Arkansas State Police investigated the scene with the assistance of the Prescott Police Department, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and the Arkansas Highway Police.
The driver of the Chrysler died later in the day at the hospital.