Ala. prison van, truck crash; several killed

October 3, 2008 8:24:55 AM PDT
A prison van carrying job applicants and a tractor-trailer crashed Friday on a rural highway, and authorities were frantically trying to sort out how many people died in the fiery wreckage. The blaze made it difficult to sort out how many were killed, and reports from first responders and other officials varied. State trooper spokesman John Reese said "more than four" were dead, but Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright, who went to the scene, said he was told six had died. A prison spokesman said seven died.

"The crash was horrendous enough, but the fire added to the tragedy," Bright said.

The crash happened early Friday morning on an isolated stretch of U.S. 82. The prison van was carrying applicants for Department of Corrections jobs, and Reese said all of those who were killed were riding in the van. However, it wasn't clear how many people were aboard. No inmates were involved in the crash, he said.

The driver of the truck, which was loaded with wood products, was taken to a Montgomery hospital with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening, Reese said.

The highway was blocked off about three miles from the wreck site in both directions, with traffic being detoured. The wreck occurred sometime before 6 a.m. about 20 miles southeast of Montgomery as the van traveled west toward the capital and the truck headed east, Reese said.

"It was a very high-impact crash," he said.

Multiple ambulances, fire trucks and law enforcement vehicles could be seen in the vicinity of the wreck more than two hours after it occurred.


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