OHP: Water jug may have caused fatal highway crash

OKLAHOMA CITY - Officials with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said a water jug may have caused a fatal wreck on a busy state highway.

The three-vehicle crash happened around 1 p.m. last Friday, according to Capt. Paul Timmons with OHP. Timmons said investigators have finished interviewing witnesses on the scene.

"Initially, the information we have from witnesses was that an orange water cooler fell from another vehicle and landed in the center lane of the southbound roadway on Broadway Extension," Timmons said. "That’s all we have to go on, basically whenever we do these types of investigations. We have to go with what the witnesses say until we can either verify or disprove that."

According to a police report, a witness described one of the vehicles involved as "an orange OG&E service truck" that "lost an orange water jug off of the back of the unit."

The report goes on to say one of the drivers, identified as Greg Penna, swerved to the left to avoid the cooler when he was rear-ended by another car and hit another one. Penna, 51, did not survive the crash.

A friend of the family told News 4 that Penna was originally from Louisiana where the family plans to bury him at a church cemetery. We're told he worked there as a pastor early in his career.

Since the crash, the family has hired personal injury attorney Noble McIntyre.

"Just from the initial police report, it looks like there was some events put in motion that led to this terrible tragedy, and so it’s my job to find out if in fact that is what happened and then to determine if there is a legal course of action for the family," McIntyre said.

In this case, McIntyre said the witness' account given to OHP holds significance.

"It’s huge in the sense that particular witness has identified the potential defendant," he told News 4. "If that’s the case, vehicles in Oklahoma are required under the law to secure their load so that things don’t fall off because, if something falls off in a busy highway, it’s going to impede traffic, it will cause some folks to swerve and it can cause accidents, which is exactly what happened here."

In a statement, OG&E said:

"We want to offer our thoughts and prayers to the Penna family. OG&E is continuing to assist the Oklahoma State Highway Patrol in its investigation of this incident."

McIntyre said the investigation portion for his office will include finding any video surveillance of incident and speaking with witnesses and other drivers involved in the case.

Once OHP investigators finish the paperwork for the case, it will be turned over to the Oklahoma County District Attorney's Office for evaluation.