A two-vehicle wreck that killed four Sunday afternoon is still under investigation, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Sgt. Patrick Dark.
Kashunda Rodgers, 34; Kaleigh Hinton, 12; and Ronjenne Williams, 12, all of Jacksonville, in a 2005 Chrysler Pacifica station wagon, were killed in the wreck, as was Leigh Ann Montgomery, 24, of Woodstock, Ala., who was the front-seat passenger in a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado.
Rodgers, who was driving the station wagon, was traveling eastbound on U.S. Highway 79 about four miles west of Jacksonville, when she veered into the westbound lane, hitting the pickup, driven by Kelly Jones, 35, head on.
The Associated Press reports Hinton and Williams were cousins.
Jones and the three children in the pickup, Bailie Jones, 14, Hayden Jones, 7, and McKinzy Jones, 4, all of Rusk, were transported to hospitals. Kelly Jones was taken to East Texas Medical Center in Jacksonville. He was later transferred to ETMC in Tyler to be treated for several fractures and broken bones.
Bailie Jones was flown to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, and Hayden Jones and McKinzy Jones were both flown to Children’s Hospital in Dallas.
All four remained hospitalized Monday afternoon, according to DPS Trooper Clint Stephens.
“As to why this happened, that part is still under investigation,” Dark said Monday.
Stephens said information about the wreck is still being gathered.
“We have some witnesses we’re trying to confirm their information and get written statements from,” Stephens said, adding the witnesses are from out of town.
He said a state DPS reconstruction team was brought in to help determine not only why the wreck happened, but who exactly was wearing seat belts at the time of the collision and why the Chrysler Pacifica caught on fire.
“It’s not a common occurrence, because cars these days are built so well,” he said. “But it is still a liability.”
Stephens did confirm that the three Jones children, who were all riding in the back seat of the pickup, were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident, but that it is still unknown whether the others involved had seat belts on because the damage to the vehicles prohibited that determination.
Stephens said the Texas Department of Transportation also was called to the scene of the wreck Sunday.
“We brought in TxDOT for two reasons. One, because the road was shut down for four hours, we want them to be aware of that closure,” he said. “They also investigated the roadway after the accident.”
Stephens said after examining the roadway where the fire occurred, TxDOT did determine that the integrity of the road was sound and it could be reopened to traffic. He said TxDOT officials confirmed they will continue to monitor the road in the area of the accident to make certain there is no long-term effects.
Services for Rodgers, Hinton and Williams are pending with Mercy/McGowan Funeral Home.