By Alisha Thompson
A tragic automobile accident shook the town of Tishomingo on March 22, claiming the lives of 6 young ladies: Brooklyn Triplett, Gracie Machado, Austin Holt, Madison Robertson, Adison Gratz and Memory Wilson.
The unthinkable grief felt in Tishomingo quickly made local and then, national news.
One of the young ladies who died in the accident, Triplett, attended Davis Public Schools prior to becoming a Tishomingo Indian. Davis residents took to Facebook to remember Triplett with photos and posts talking about her as a good student, friend and athlete. Her sweet spirit and humor left an impression on many who knew her in Davis.
Friends of Triplett in Davis started a GoFundMe account for funeral expenses for Triplett. With a goal of $10,000, the account is sitting at $8,205 in five days. This was reached with 65 donations and one anonymous donation of $5,000.
A Celebration of Life will is Friday at 2 p.m. at Camp Bond in Tishomingo. The family is asking everyone to please wear bright and colorful clothing to celebrate the beautiful soul and life of Brooklyn. A full obituary will be printed in The Davis News next week for Triplett.
The driver of the semi truck was not injured in the accident. Readers reported that the man later went to the hospital to be seen by a medical professional. It is said that he was later released.
A bank account has been set up at Ameristate Bank in Tishomingo to the account named Tishomingo Strong Benefit & Memorial Account. For more information about donating to this account please call (580) 219-6040.
Country superstar, Blake Shelton, who calls Tishomingo home, issued the following statement in “In the wake of yesterday’s unthinkable crash in our small town of Tishomingo, we as a community have all been in shock and broken-hearted. I personally know the devastation of suddenly losing a loved one in a car accident. But our community is strong and has come together to support and wrap our arms around the families and friends that are hurting the most. There’s no question it will take a long time to heal from this tragedy. Keep the prayers coming.”
The National Transportation Safety Board has joined the Oklahoma Highway Patrol in investigating this accident.
The accident report states: At approximately 12:30 p.m. on March 22, in Tishomingo, a 1994 Peterbilt truck-tractor in combination with a dump semi-trailer loaded with gravel was traveling southbound on United States Highway 377 (US-377) approaching the intersection of Oklahoma State Highway 22 (SH-22). At the same time, a 2015 Chevrolet Spark passenger vehicle, occupied by a teenage driver and five teenage passengers, was traveling eastbound on SH-22 approaching US-377.
At this location, the intersection is controlled by a stop sign regulating traffic on SH-22. The posted speed limit for US-377 is 50 mph.
The Tishomingo Police Department requested the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Traffic Homicide Unit (THU) investigate the collision. Members documented the scene with ground and aerial photos and interviews were conducted. THU worked closely with the Oklahoma Medical Examiner Investigators to identify victims and conduct next of kin notifications.
The vehicles were stored indoors, and both vehicles’ post-vehicle collision inspections were conducted. An event data recorder was removed, with consent, from the Chevrolet Spark. The data was imaged with a software program, and a report was produced. The data from the event data recorder was consistent with witness statements.
Witnesses reported the Chevrolet stopped behind another vehicle at the stop sign but did not itself stop at the stop sign, and entered US-377 attempting a left turn. The combination vehicle struck the front-left of the Chevrolet in the southbound lane, pushing it off the roadway to the southwest. The combination vehicle then departed the roadway and came to rest in a private driveway on the east side of US-377.
As a result of the crash, all six occupants in the Chevrolet were killed; the truck driver was uninjured.
A preliminary case review will be submitted to the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District for review.
In coordination with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s Traffic Homicide Unit, the National Transportation Safety Board sent a team of four investigators and a family assistance specialist to Oklahoma on March 23. The investigators looked at the following issues:
Highway: The environmental factors involved in a crash include the roadway condition, signage, geometric design of the highway, lighting, weather condition, traffic volumes, and accident histories. The group also evaluates the highway infrastructure for adequacy of roadside barriers and compliance with various design manuals.
Human performance: The performance of the human operators involved in the accident and looks at all ‘before-the-accident’ factors that might be involved in human error, including fatigue, medication, alcohol, drugs, medical histories, training, workload, equipment design, and work environment.
Motor carrier: The operations of the driver and motor carrier. This includes an examination of the motor carrier’s compliance to applicable federal and/or state regulations and the oversight of the involved companies by Federal and state authorities. Investigators may also review the carrier’s overall safety culture and related safety programs involving driving operations, fatigue management, vehicle maintenance, and driver fitness for duty.
Reconstruction: Mapping and documenting the scene and the vehicles involved in the crash and analyzing physical evidence and vehicle damage to reconstruct the crash events.
Senator Frank Simpson issued the following statement after meeting with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) about evaluating the dangerous intersection of U.S. 377 and State Highways 22 and 99 on March 25.
“This week, I met with a representative of ODOT and asked that the intersection south of Tishomingo be evaluated to determine if its configuration contributed to Tuesday’s terrible accident that claimed six innocent lives. ODOT has agreed to conduct an in-depth evaluation. I have traveled that intersection hundreds of times myself, and it is very dangerous.
My fear is that it was just a matter of time before a tragedy such as this occurred, but we must do whatever necessary to make sure this never happens again. I have directed ODOT to keep me informed on their progress in evaluating the intersection. In my personal opinion, this junction of three busy highways must be completely reconfigured to improve safety. My wife Karen and I continue to keep the Tishomingo community in our prayers. If my office can be of any assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out.”
The investigation with the NTSB could take up two years to complete.
Tishomingo High School was closed Monday and Tuesday and will close Wednesday and Friday to offer students the chance to attend funerals for the six young ladies that will be held throughout the week.
By Alisha Thompson