NTSB Releases Preliminary Findings on Deadly I-35W Pileup, Focused on ‘Road Treatment’
Fort Worth, TX – The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) this week released the preliminary findings of its investigation into the deadly pileup along a Fort Worth interstate earlier this year.
On Thursday, February 11, at approximately 6:00 a.m., an horrific scene unfolded in the southbound toll lanes of Interstate 35 West as more than 130 vehicles crashed in the icy conditions.
The NTSB’s preliminary investigation into the accident concluded 114 passenger vehicles, 16 tractor-trailers, and 2 units classified as ‘pedestrians’ were involved.
The crash scene covered a segment of roadway approximately 1,100 feet long, the NTSB said.
As a result of the crash, six people were fatally injured.
The NTSB reported two of the fatally injured people were pedestrians who exited their vehicles and were struck on the road, while the other fatally injured people remained inside their vehicles.
Another thirty-six vehicle occupants were transported to area hospitals for treatment of their injuries.
Investigation Into “Road Treatment Strategies”
In the aftermath of the crash, many people blamed the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and NTE Mobility Partners Segments 3 (NTEMP S3) for allegedly not properly treating the roadway before the deadly incident.
NTEMP S3 was responsible for operations and maintenance in the I-35W right-of-way, which included toll lanes, general-use lanes, and frontage roads, the NTSB said.
While the preliminary report stated the Agency is “conducting a focused investigation to examine the road treatment strategies used to address the freezing conditions,” it did include some details about this element of the investigation so far.
According to the report, in the days before the crash, the area had experienced 36 consecutive hours of below freezing temperatures.
In anticipation of forecast freezing rain and sleet, NTEMP S3, which also operates and maintains other segments along Interstate 820 and State Highway 183 in the Fort Worth area, reported that they had pretreated the traffic lanes with an Ice Slicer NM brine solution.
Ice Slicer NM — also known as Ice Slicer CB — is available as a commercial product and is comprised of sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride, and calcium chloride.
Sodium chloride makes up 90 to 98% of the brine solution.
“The solution was applied to the two southbound toll lanes in the vicinity of the crash on February 9 at 10:12 a.m.,” the report stated.
About four hours before the crash, the weather station at Fort Worth Meacham International Airport, about 3 miles northwest of the crash site, reported light freezing rain and freezing mist, the NTSB report indicated.
Further, the NTSB said, “At 3:40 a.m., the dynamic message signs managed by NTEMP S3 along the southbound toll lanes began displaying the message, ‘ICY CONDITIONS EXIST / PLEASE USE CAUTION.’ The message was based on information from an earlier crash at 3:08 a.m., when icy road conditions existed at I-35W and Western Center Boulevard, about 5 miles north of the crash site.”
The NTSB’s supplemental investigative findings on this crash are expected later this year.
In Case You Missed It…
The first of what will likely be many lawsuits was filed less than two weeks after the tragic crash.
The suit, filed by three survivors who allegedly suffered “severe bodily injuries,” names five trucking companies along with six truck drivers as Defendants.