HAZEN, Ark. (KTHV) - New information is released in the Interstate 40 accident that killed one person, injured a dozen others, and delayed traffic for all of Thursday.
Initially, Arkansas State Police suspected, based on early witness accounts, that 'metal debris from the roadway had become airborne,' causing a chain reaction of accidents at milemarker 200 near Hazen about 7:50 a.m.
On Friday, Danny Straessle with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Dept. released more information.
Straessle said "an elderly gentleman" heard a noise under his car, which led him to think he was dragging a piece of metal. To remove it, he stopped in the middle of I-40 since there was no shoulder along the construction zone he was driving in. According to the ASP accident report, this caused a Freightliner truck, Toyota Camry, Volvo car, and Ford E350 to stop. At least two other vehicles behind them were involved in a chain reaction wreck.
The man, who had gotten out of his vehicle, was not hit. Straessle said the collisions happened before the other vehicles reached his.
Police have not determined whether there was anything beneath the man's vehicle. While weather conditions included rain and sleet later in the day, they were listed on the police report as 'clear and dry' at the time of the wreck.
State police said at least twelve people were taken to area hospitals, by both ground and air ambulances. Their conditions have not been released. One person, identified as 25-year-old Austin Jarrett of Cabot, was killed in the wreck. He was a passenger in the Camry, according to Arkansas State Police.
Police continue investigating the wreck; no charges have been filed in the case.