Official with ALEA speaks on fatal Russell County wreck that killed five
Three adults and two children were killed Monday morning in a head-on collision between two vehicles on U.S. 80 west of Phenix City, Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor confirmed.
Russell County Coroner Arthur Sumbry Jr. said the victims are from Albany, La.
One victim was a young woman Carrie Jones, 32. She was the mother of the two children killed, Trinity Jones, 7, and Jackson Jones, 4. Also killed were twin sisters Judy Madere and Trudy Herbert, both 58.
Sumbry said the bodies will be sent for an autopsy.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is investigating and is being assisted by the Russell County Sheriff’s office. The incident, which happened around 8:30 a.m., left first responders on the scene “pretty shook up,” Taylor said.
“You can certainly do this job for a long time and you’re always going to see serious situations like this, but they’re never easy to deal with,” he said. “They never leave your mind, and so we keep our first responders in our prayers because of that very thing. They are going to be dealing with this one for a long time.”
Officials believe the passengers of the 2014 Nissan Rogue were instantly killed, Taylor said. There were no survivors in the vehicle that collided with a 2006 Mack tractor trailer. The driver of the tractor-trailer was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said.
After 3 p.m., officers were still investigating the scene. The vehicles had been moved off of the roadway and to a nearby garage to continue the investigation.
On that stretch of U.S. 80 between Ladonia and Crawford, the speed limit on the two-lane road is 55 miles per hour.
Matthew Popiel, who resides on U.S. 80, said he was sitting on his porch talking on the phone when he witnessed a collision like no other he’s seen before. He said he instantly dropped his phone and rushed to the area to help.
“I tried my best to help get the kids out,” said Popiel, who described the incident as an unforgettable wreck that no one should ever have to witness. “I tried my best but wasn’t able to. It’s impossible to try to get people out of a damaged car like that without having the proper tools.”
Popiel’s mother Carrie Patrick, who also lives on U.S. 80, said she heard what sounded like an explosion and rushed outside where she saw the aftermath of the crash. She said there were people running, stopping on the side of the road and climbing on top of the car trying to get to the victims.
“It was horrifying,” she said. “There was smoke going up. You just didn’t know what was going on.”
Patrick, who helped direct traffic on the scene, said she would give her condolences directly to those affected if given the chance.
“I would honestly tell them from the deepest bottom part of my heart that I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s horrifying to lose family, so that’s all you can do.”