A 54-year-old woman died and several people were injured in an accident involving three vehicles Friday morning in which one vehicle wound up crashing into Cedar Creek along Interstate 20 in north Abilene.
The dead woman has been identified as 54-year-old Thanhhuong Cao
In addition to the death, four adults were transported to the hospital and were in critical condition, Abilene Fire Department spokesman Greg Goettsch said.
There was also a baby injured, but the baby's condition was unknown, Goettsch said.
Two other people in a separate car were also transported to the hospital.
Emergency crews were called to the crash about 10 a.m. Friday where the freeway crosses Cedar Creek near mile marker 286 ? with the wreckage between the eastbound and westbound lanes and about 40 feet below the level of the freeway.
Crews used ropes and pulleys to drop equipment from the freeway bridge down to the wreckage below. First responders had to use jaws of life equipment to get the adult victims out of the vehicle.
One of the three vehicles involved in the accident left the scene of the accident.
Investigators told KTXS News that one of the vehicles apparently failed to yield the right of way as it entered the interstate, causing another vehicle to swerve into the outside lane.
One of the westbound vehicles, a Toyota Highlander, then veered into a median.
Abilene Police Officer Tyson Kropp said, "When the vehicle, (the one) that left the scene, came onto I-20, they didn't yield right of way at the yield sign. This forced another vehicle over to the left, which in turn hit the Highlander. After this impact, what appears is that the Highlander went off the grass median and drove off of the embankment into the creek."
No braking skid marks were obvious in the median east of Cedar Creek ? as the Highlander, still traveling fast in the median, approached the creek. It is evident at the scene that the drop-off to the creek would not have been immediately visible to the driver as the fast-moving vehicle approached the scene.
The Highlander then went airborne for possibly 50 to 100 feet off the embankment. The vehicle slammed hard in the creek bed, about 40 feet beneath the level of the freeway. The vehicle eventually came to rest on its side at the base of the embankment on the far side of the creek.
After one of the involved vehicles failed to stop after the crash, a witness reported its license plate number to authorities. The driver of that vehicle was located and was said to be cooperating with investigators.
Most of the victims were a family from the Dallas-Fort Worth area on their way to Lubbock for a graduation ceremony.
Crews blocked off one lane of eastbound traffic to lower equipment off the bridge to reach the victims and vehicle below.
Goettsch said the baby was removed from the vehicle quickly, but the jaws of life equipment was needed to get the five adults out of the vehicle. The process of cutting the adults out of the Highlander took almost an hour.