Five of the six victims of the massive pileup on a north Texas highway were identified Friday, as the freezing rain that contributed to the smashup fell on the South and Mid-Atlantic, threatening weekend travel and Monday’s commute.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner identified four of the five victims as being from Texas: Tiffany Louann Gerred, 34, of Northlake; Aaron Luke Watson, 45, of Fort Worth; Christopher Ray Vardy, 49, of Boyd; and Michael Henry Wells, 47, of Justin. The fifth, William Darrell Williams, 54, was from Pahoa, Hawaii.
The exact cause of the 135-car pileup Thursday on Interstate 35 in Fort Worth remained under investigation.
By Monday morning, commuters as far south and west as Houston — stretching north and east toward Shreveport, Louisiana, Nashville, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and New York — could face similar conditions that led to Thursday’s accident in Fort Worth, according to forecasts.
Over the weekend, freezing rain could make for hazardous driving in Richmond, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, though slightly warmer temperatures and lighter precipitation on Monday morning could help relieve conditions in some of these cities.
Transportation officials across those regions hope to avoid a repeat of Thursday’s pileup in Fort Worth, where tractor-trailers pancaked cars.
“It was really icy out there, (I) skid for about 100 feet or so, then hit the wall. A few semis came and just kind of plowed through a lot of people,” motorist Blake Diebel told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. “Feel lucky and my head hurts, so we’re going to get it checked out.”
Diebel’s parents rushed from Denton to the scene after hearing about the pileup, and his mother, Joni Diebel, hurdled the highway median to hug her son.
“Worst, helpless feeling ever,” Joni Diebel said just before the emotional highway reunion. “When he left this morning, I had a bad feeling. I don’t know why.”
Nurse Danielle White was on her normal commute when the pileup unfolded before her within seconds.
“As I’m coming down the freeway, I see an 18-wheeler just across the freeway. And so I put on my brakes and nothing happened. I just braced. I knew I was going to hit it,” White told NBC Dallas.
And as White tried to exit, her car was struck from multiple angles, leaving her foot and arm caught in the door and causing excruciating pain. Firefighters reached her 15 minutes later and freed the nurse with a crowbar.
“I was just trying to tell myself, ‘As a nurse, you know what to do. You’re OK. You don’t have any vital injuries. You’re going to survive this, and you’re going to get out,’ ” White said. “And that’s when I was just screaming for help for someone to come save me.”