3 Dead, Victims Identified After Weekend Accident in Killeen, Texas
***This story has been updated to reflect a correction in the description of the accident, and the name and GoFundMe information of the survivor***
Central Texas received a tragic reminder about the cost of reckless driving this weekend, when a driver going the wrong way early Saturday morning in Killeen, Texas caused an accident resulting in three fatalities.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has identified the three victims who died in the crash over the weekend. Two of the victims were under 21.
Three People Die in Killeen Crash
22-year-old Sgt. Matthew Fernandez with the 36th Engineer Brigade at Fort Hood was driving a 2017 Toyota Corolla eastbound in the westbound lane on I-14 near the Ft. Hood T.J. Mills exit. Meanwhile, a 20-year-old woman from Copperas Cove in a 2013 Kia Optima approached the Toyota while driving westbound on I-14. Around 2 a.m. on Saturday, the vehicles hit head-on, causing the Toyota's engine to ignite and burn, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Spokesman Sgt. Bryan Washko.
KXXV is reporting that a GoFundMe has been launched for the sole survivor of the crash. 20-year-old Autumn Lynch of Copperas Cove remains hospitalized in critical condition at Baylor Scott and White in Temple, according to the family's campaign. She is reported to be receiving treatment for a spinal fracture, along with a broken hip and arm.
Fernandez, 20-year-old Joshua Smith of Copperas Cove, and 20-year-old Aaliyah Marie Peinado, a California resident, were all pronounced dead at the scene. The DPS investigation into the crash is ongoing.
100 Deadliest Days
The 100 Deadliest Days refers to the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when the number of fatalities involving a teen drivers historically rise.
While the drivers in the recent Killeen, Texas crash were all 20 years old or older, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that over the past five years, almost 3,500 people have been killed in crashes involving drivers 19 and under during the summer months.
There is a higher rate of fatal crashes among younger drivers due to immaturity, lack of skills, and lack of experience.