It was a horrific string of crashes that left three people dead on Sunday. The crashes started on southbound I-25 and veered onto the northbound lanes. The barrier that was supposed to keep these crashes from happening, didn’t do its job.
“This is definitely one of the worst accidents I’ve seen in my career,” said Chief James Maxon of the Sandoval County Fire Department on Sunday.
The skid marks help tell the story. Early Sunday morning, just north of Bernalillo, a car going south on I-25 rear-ended a pickup truck, causing it to cross the cable barrier into the northbound median.
The Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office says the driver of the car was ejected.
That’s when the El Paso-Los Angeles Limousine Express bus, going south on I-25, tried to avoid the crash, but lost control.
“It also crossed the barrier cable and the median, and came to rest across both northbound lanes of I-25,” said Lt. Keith Elder on Sunday.
At that point, the sheriff’s office says a semi-truck going north on I-25, side-swiped the bus as it was trying to swerve around it.
“Lost control of the truck, went across the barrier cable and median of I-25, across both southbound lanes,” said Lt. Elder.
The pickup truck, passenger bus, and semi-truck all crossed through the cable barriers that are meant to not only divide the interstate but prevent head-on-collisions.
They are supposed to lessen the impact and keep it on one side of the interstate.
A spokesperson with the Department of Transportation says they are not allowed to go on camera about the incident, but say these cable barriers have different levels of weight capacity.
Because of the magnitude and weight of the bus and semi, it wasn’t able to withstand the impact.
“It’s been a long time, and many years, since I’ve seen one in my career that involved that many vehicles,” said Lt. Elder.
The DOT says the cable barriers’ performance depends on speed, if all wheels are on the ground, weight of the vehicle, and angle of impact. They say they will wait until the crash investigation is complete before they decide if any changes are necessary.
The president of the passenger bus tells KRQE News 13, the bus was headed to El Paso from Colorado.
The Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office has not yet released the names of the three people killed.