A Forrest City man trying to help a pair of women get to their homes in Benton after their vehicle was involved in a wreck died from injuries suffered in a chain-reaction accident Friday afternoon on Interstate 40 near Palestine.
David White, 68, of Forrest City, died from his injuries Sunday at a Memphis hospital.
According to officials with Arkansas State Police Troop D in Forrest City, traffic near the Palestine exit was backed up due to an allegedly impaired truck driver whose tractor-trailer rig jackknifed, causing traffic to stall near the 233 mile marker about 4:45 p.m., Friday, according officials with Troop D.
The jackknifed truck was driven by Robert Madigan, 57, of Brooklyn, Md. He is charged with reckless driving, drinking on a highway and driving while intoxicated. He is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday afternoon.
According to State Police, all seven vehicles were traveling west on Interstate 40, with the first six vehicles slowed due to the accident caused by Madigan. The chain-reaction wreck occurred when a 2001 Freightliner driven by Noe Cadena, 71, of Edinburg, Texas, failed to stop, striking the six vehicles in front of him.
Cadena first struck the wrecker being driven by White and “kept on going,” according to State Police.
White was driving a 2006 Ford tow truck belonging to Diamond D Wrecker of Palestine and loaded with a vehicle that had been involved in a previous wreck. Inside the tow truck were Regina White, 32, of Forrest City, along with two women from Benton, who White was reportedly trying to help get home. State Police identified those women as DeAnn Rivera, 52, and Donna Cullum, 48, both of Benton. Regina White, Rivera and Cullum were among 10 people reportedly injured in the crash.
Vehicles driven by two other people from St. Francis County were also involved in the accident. According to State Police, Amber Kennedy, 29, of Palestine was driving a 2015 Jeep, and Michelle Jones, 39, of Forrest City, was driving a 2015 Dodge Journey. Both drivers were among those reportedly injured in the crash.
Additional vehicles and their drivers included a 2014 Lexus driven by Wazir Valiani, 54, of Collierville, Tenn.; a 2017 Infinity driven by Katie Montgomery, 49, of Frisco, Texas and a 2012 Lexus driven by Paul Walton, 20, of Edmond, Okla.
In addition to Kennedy and Jones, the others reportedly injured in the accident were three people in Montgomery’s car including Deenie Cress, 52, of Frisco, Texas and two minors, who were not named in the report.
Cadena was also reportedly injured in the wreck. It was unknown at this time if Cadena will be charged in connection with the accident.
The injured were treated at Forrest City Medical Center and Regional One Medical Center in Memphis.
Troop D also reported a second fatality during the holiday period, which ended at midnight Monday.
The second fatality occurred at 6:18 p.m., Saturday in West Memphis. State Police reported George Thomas, 79, of West Memphis, was reportedly walking in the eastbound lanes of traffic on West Broadway when he was killed Saturday night in West Memphis after being struck by a 2002 GMC Yukon traveling east.
According to State Police, Arkansas recorded 543 fatalities in 2016.
Throughout the three-day holiday period, which ran from Friday through midnight Monday, troopers with Troop D issued 49 citations for speeding, made 14 driving while intoxicated arrests, 64 criminal arrests, 92 non-hazardous arrests, 20 other hazardous arrests, issued two citations for seatbelt violations and eight citations for child restraint violations.
Troopers wrote 259 warnings and assisted 20 motorists, according to information provided by Troop D.