Truck Driver And Passenger Perish After Colliding With Semi In Construction Zone
McMinnville, Tennessee – A truck driver and a passenger were killed when they collided into the back of a gravel hauler at the foot of a bridge along mountainous Highway 8 in Warren County on Friday afternoon.
According to Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP), William McConnaughey, 45, of Pikeville and Michael Kelly Ruth, 47, of Copperas Cove, Texas, were hauling cross-ties and operating northbound along Highway 8 in a late-model Volvo semi when they struck the rear of a Peterbilt semi which was hauling 79,000 pounds of gravel.
Investigators said McConnaughey was driving at the time of the crash.
THP said McConnaughey failed to slow as the flatbed rig approached a construction zone on the south end of a bridge where the Peterbilt was stopped.
McConnaughey and Ruth’s big rig then struck the rear of the gravel hauler, driven by 64-year-old Michael Wilhelm, of Murfreesboro, as the truck began to accelerate after having come to a stop in the construction zone.
Both McConnaughey and Ruth died on the scene. Wilhelm was not seriously injured.
Investigators said construction workers on the bridge were forced to scramble for their lives as the impact sent both vehicles all the way across the bridge and cross-ties flying in all directions.
At least two workers jumped off the bridge, officials said.
No other injuries were reported.
“Brake failure” is being investigated as a possible cause of the crash.
Witnesses reported seeing McConnaughey and Ruth’s semi traveling down the mountainous highway much faster than it should have been.
THP said its investigation is ongoing.
Transportation Nation Network will continue to monitor any new developments.
(Images courtesy of James Harbin and Mitchel Shell/Facebook)