Two wrecks near Sonora on Saturday left six dead and five injured.
Ibrahim Fetic, 47, of Troy, Mich., was driving a 2012 Kenworth tractor-trailer northbound on Interstate 65 when his vehicle struck a 1999 Ford Expedition in front of him at about 11:13 a.m. near mile marker 83 near Sonora, according to Norman Chaffins, Kentucky State Police Post 4 spokesman.
Six people in the SUV were killed after the SUV caught fire. They were identified as residents of Marion, Wis., traveling home after a trip to Orlando, Fla., Chaffins said.
They were James Gollnow, 62, and his wife, Barbara Gollnow, 62. Also killed were Marion Champnise, 92, Sarina Gollnow, 18, Gabriel Zumiga, 10, and Soledad Smith, 8. Two of the children were foster children, Chaffins said.
Deputy Hardin County Coroner Kenneth Spangenberger, one of the four staff members from the coroner’s office who helped process the scene of the crash, said all of the bodies were transferred to the state medical examiner’s office for autopsy.
Two other foster children were seriously injured in the crash. They were identified as Hope Hoth, 15, and Aidian Ejnik, 12, Chaffins said.
Hoth was flown to a hospital in Lexington and Ejnik to a hospital in Louisville, he said.
Police haven’t determined what caused Fetic’s vehicle to strike the Expedition, said Chaffins.
The Expedition struck the rear end of a 2007 Toyota Avalon also northbound driven by Janet Collins, 57, of Memphis, Tenn., according to police.
The Expedition came to rest in the grass just off the northbound emergency lane and was totally consumed by flames, according to police.
Collins sustained minor injuries and wasn’t transported to a hospital. Fetic was not injured, according to police.
Detective Terry Whittaker is leading the ongoing investigation into that wreck, according to police.
A second crash occurred in the same area on the southbound side of the interstate 16 minutes later, while troopers were investigating the first collision.
That four-vehicle wreck sent a Tennessee man and the drummer for country music singer Kellie Pickler to University Hospital in Louisville with critical injuries, according to police.
The drummer, Gregory Lohman, 36, of Goodlettsville, Tenn., was southbound and slowing for the wreck on the northbound side when a 2013 Freightliner driven by Mark Bowser, 58, of Lewisburg, Ohio, failed to see slowed traffic and struck Lohman’s vehicle in the rear, according to police.
Lohman’s vehicle then struck in the rear a 2005 Saturn SUV driven by Victor Martinka, of Glenview, Ill., according to police.
Martinka’s vehicle then struck in the rear a 2012 Chevrolet SUV driven by Stephanie Yates, 55, of Louisville, according to police.
All of the vehicles were southbound on the interstate, according to police.
Lohman suffered head and neck injuries and was airlifted to University Hospital in Louisville. He was listed in critical but stable condition Sunday morning, according to police.
Both occupants in the Saturn, Victor and Lilija Martinka, 51, were transported to Hardin Memorial Hospital, where they were treated and released, according to police.
Neither Bowser nor Yates were injured, according to police.
Trooper Brad Riley is conducting the ongoing investigation into that crash, according to police.
So far, no one has been cited or arrested in either collision. Chaffins said KSP investigates wrecks and turns its findings over to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to decide whether action will be brought against any drivers.
Reconstructionists from Elizabethtown and other posts assisted with both wrecks, according to police.
After the wrecks, traffic was backed up for miles in each direction after police closed the interstate in both directions between exits 81 and 86. The road was closed from the time of the crash until about 4:55 p.m.
Much of the diverted traffic ended up on LaRue County roadways, creating delays for motorists.
The Elizabethtown Fire Department, the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office and KSP Commercial Vehicle Enforcement also responded to the wrecks.