Six teenage girls were killed Tuesday when their car with only four seats crashed into a large truck hauling rocks, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Wednesday.
The high schoolers were on their lunch break when their 2015 Chevrolet Spark collided with a semitruck at about 12:30 p.m., according to Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokesperson Sarah Stewart.
Those who died included the 16-year-old driver, three 15-year-olds and two 17-year-old passengers, the patrol said. Their names were not released because they are juveniles.
The driver of the passenger vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, along with three other victims. Two died after being transported to a hospital, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
The driver of the semi was not injured.
The crash report, released Wednesday morning, said the circumstances of the wreck remained under investigation.
Only the 16-year-old driver and front-seat passenger were wearing seat belts when the passenger vehicle collided with the semi, according to the Highway Patrol.
“The unbelted people put everyone at risk,” said William Van Tassel with AAA’s national office. “In a crash, the unbuckled people fly around all over the place,” injuring others inside the vehicle.
Oklahoma is the only state where passengers who are older than 7 years old and in the back seat of a car do not have to wear a seat belt, said Leslie Gamble, the manager of public and government relations for AAA-Oklahoma.
Footage published by a local TV station KJRH -TV showed a crumpled black vehicle with its roof ripped off. What appeared to be a pink steering wheel was separated from the vehicle and lying on the ground.
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Tishomingo Public Schools released a letter to parents and the school community Tuesday afternoon.
“We feel it is imperative that we inform you that our district has suffered a great loss today,” said Tishomingo Public Schools Superintendent Bobby Waitman in a letter to the community. “Our hearts are broken, and we are grieving with our students and staff.”
The crash happened about a mile away from Tishomingo High School.
“We’re just praying for strength, praying for grace and for our students and their families,” Waitman told The Oklahoman, part of the USA TODAY Network.
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State Sen. Frank Simpson broke the news of the crash to colleagues in the closing moments of a Tuesday meeting.
“Tishomingo is a very close knit community, and I know this afternoon that little town is in sorrow,” Simpson said as the Senate joined in prayer.
The small town of about 3,000 is about 100 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma crash came exactly one week after nine people died, including six college students and their coach, in a Texas crash where a 13-year-old boy was driving the pickup truck involved in the collision.
Contributing: Hogan Gore, Oklahoman; The Associated Press