MUNFORDVILLE, Ky. — They were an extended family of Mennonites from south-central Kentucky, on their way to a wedding in Iowa, when their path crossed that of an out-of-control tractor-trailer on Interstate 65 shortly before dawn Friday.
Ten people in the Esh family's dark green 15-passenger van were killed near Munfordville. The driver of the truck also died. He had not been identified as of Friday evening.
The truck, carrying brake drums to Alabama, had crossed the median and hit the van head on before bursting into flames against a rock embankment.
It was Kentucky's worst highway crash since May 14, 1988 when 27 children were killed in a fiery church bus crash caused by a drunken driver going the wrong way on Interstate 71 in Carroll County.
Miraculously, two children, ages 3 and 5, survived Friday's crash with little more than a bloody nose for one of them.
The Esh family were from the Marrowbone community in Cumberland County.
Jessie Crabtree, a radio personality with WKYR in Burkesville who was spokeswoman for the family, said those who were involved in the crash were: John Esh and his wife, Sadie; their daughters, Rose, Anna and Rachel; Rachel's finance, Joel Gingerich; Ashley Kramer, a family friend from Franklin; John and Sadie's son Leroy Esh and his wife, Naomi; their three adopted boys, Johnny, Josiah and Jalen, who was 2 months old and had only been with the family two weeks.
Friday's collision happened at 5:16 a.m. CDT near the 63-mile marker south of Munfordville. Emergency management director Kerry McDaniel said the tractor-trailer carrying brake drums was heading south and crossed the median, striking the dark green, 15-passenger van head on. The force of the collision knocked the transmission and engine out of the van. It came to rest among brake drums from the truck.
The tractor-trailer, which was from Alabama, then hit a rock embankment and burst into flames. The driver's identity was not released.
Debris was still piled along the interstate hours after the crash. There was a blanket, a blood-stained pillow, a tennis shoe and a pink stuffed animal.
"It was horrific," said Charlie Swiney, a Kentucky State Police spokesman.
Read more of this story at Kentucky.com