TISHOMINGO, Okla. (KFOR) – A woman with a personal connection to one of the Tishomingo crash victims spoke to KFOR on Thursday to tell the girl’s legacy and what she meant to her family.
“To have six young ladies’ lives lost like that, it’s just a tragedy,” said Natalie Houston, a woman that knew Austin Holt, one of the victims of the crash in Tishomingo on Tuesday. “They had their whole lives ahead of them, and it’s just such a tragedy.”
Houston is just one of the many people personally touched by this unspeakable tragedy. She said her daughter and Holt were close. She and five other girls were killed after being hit by a semi-truck at the intersection of U.S. 377 and Oklahoma 22. The vehicles doors and roof were ripped apart on impact.
“I just knew that she was such a good young lady,” Houston said. “She was, you know, a good sister to Joyanna. She was just a beautiful, young, smart girl.”
According to Houston, the Holt family fostered her young daughter Joyanna during a difficult time in their life. The families have since kept in touch over the years, remaining a close part of Joyanna’s life.
“That you love her, and you’re going to miss her and that you’ll keep her with you always,” Houston said to her daughter Joyanna as she nodded her head yes. “They just did an amazing thing for me and my family in our time of need and took her in and, you know, just loved her.”
Houston added that Holt’s dad lost his only biological daughter in the crash.
“That’s what we want in this world, just to leave a legacy,” Houston said. “He lost his in a blink of an eye and my heart just breaks for him.”
Tishimingo Schools Superintendent Bobby Waitman released a statement Thursday, thanking everyone for the outpouring of support. He called it “humbling and encouraging.” He asked everyone to “please continue to pray for the loved ones of those we have lost as well as our school family.”
His full statement can be read below.
“If we could just all be with them, you know, and pray for them,” Houston said. “It’s going to take a long time to get over this as a community.”
A Holt family member KFOR spoke with over the phone said all the girls were special and were around one another all the time. A candlelight memorial is being held at the Tishomingo High School football field Friday night at 7 p.m.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the feds at the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash. Details on the NTSB investigation can be found below.
“At about 12:19 p.m. CDT on March 22, 2022, in Tishomingo, Okla., a 1994 Peterbilt truck tractor in combination with a dump semitrailer loaded with gravel was traveling southbound on United States Highway 377 (US-377) approaching the intersection of Oklahoma State Highway 22 (SH-22). At the same time, a 2015 Chevrolet Spark passenger vehicle (Chevy), occupied by a teenage driver and five teenage passengers was traveling eastbound on SH-22 approaching US-377. At this location, the intersection is controlled by a stop sign regulating traffic on SH-22. The posted speed limit for US-377 is 50 mph.
Witnesses reported the Chevy made a “rolling stop” at the stop sign and entered onto US-377 where the combination vehicle struck the front-left of the Chevy, pushing it off the roadway to the southwest. The combination vehicle then departed the roadway and came to rest in a private driveway on the east side of US 377. As a result of the crash, all six occupants in the Chevy were killed; the truck driver was uninjured.
In coordination with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the NTSB sent a team of four investigators and a family assistance specialist to Oklahoma on Wednesday, March 23. The investigators will be looking at the following issues:
Highway — The environmental factors involved in a crash including the roadway condition, signage, geometric design of the highway, lighting, weather condition, traffic volumes, and accident histories. The group also evaluates the highway infrastructure for adequacy of roadside barriers and compliance with various design manuals.
Human performance — The performance of the human operators involved in the accident and looks at all ‘before-the-accident’ factors that might be involved in human error, including fatigue, medication, alcohol, drugs, medical histories, training, workload, equipment design and work environment.
Motor carrier — The operations of the driver and motor carrier. This includes an examination of the motor carrier’s compliance to applicable federal and/or state regulations and the oversight of the involved companies by Federal and state authorities. Investigators may also review the carrier’s overall safety culture and related safety programs involving driving operations, fatigue management, vehicle maintenance and driver fitness for duty.
Reconstruction — Mapping and documenting the scene as well as the vehicles involved in the crash, and analyzing physical evidence and vehicle damage to reconstruct the crash events.
The team is expected to conclude their on-scene work by Monday, March 28. A preliminary report providing an overview of the factual information developed at this early point in the investigation is expected within 30 days of the accident.
The investigation is expected to be completed, which will include the probable cause of the crash as well as any contributing factors, in 12 to 24 months.
The NTSB is conducting an independent safety investigation.”