By Joe Hadsall
The Joplin Globe
A Joplin family’s trip to Dallas ended in tragedy Sunday when the car was struck by a tractor-trailer and caught fire.
Killed in the crash were Robert Hayes, 52, his wife, Melissa, 41, and sons Tyler, 15, and Colby, 14.
Sgt. Brent Crittenden of the Pryor (Okla.) Police Department said witnesses reported that the Hayes vehicle stopped about 1:15 p.m. for a traffic light at U.S. Highway 69 and Southeast 49th Street.
The family had pulled up to the stoplight in the right-hand lane,Crittenden said. They were then struck from behind by the rig headed southbound.
Counselors at Joplin High School have been made available to students, Superintendent Jim Simpson said Monday. Tyler was a student at Joplin High School and was active in the school’s JROTC program.
They get pretty close in that program, Simpson said. Counselors have been over at the high school talking to students and breaking the news to them.
Colby was an eighth-grader at Memorial Middle School until about two weeks ago, when his mother decided to home-school him, Simpson said.
Melissa Hayes was driving the family’s 2000 Ford Crown Victoria, Crittenden said. The truck driver, who was able to walk away, was driving a 2007 Freightliner.
Crittenden said authorities are not releasing the name of the driver or the trucking company, pending further investigation.
He said the Oklahoma Highway Patrol will assist with an accident re-creation before officials decide whether to file any charges against the truck driver, who is a 53-year-old man from Mesa, Ariz. He was driving on business and apparently was not under the influence of any intoxicants, Crittenden said.
Right now, the report is pending,he said. We want to do a complete reconstruction of the accident to determine exactly what happened before we request charges.
The truck driver was still in a Mayes County hospital as of Monday afternoon. Charges, if any, would be filed by the end of the week, Crittenden said.