The Iowa State Patrol is still trying to sort out the details of an accident early this morning on Interstate 80 near Earlham that left three people dead. Patrol spokesman Jim Saunders says two semis came upon a mini-van heading eastbound on I-80 at a slow rate of speed around 1:30 a.m. Saunders says one of the trucks swerved around the van, but the second truck struck the van. Saunders briefed reporters using a dry erase board with a rough sketch showing how the accident unfolded. He says the mini-van crossed the median, both westbound lanes of I-80, entered the ditch, went airborne over a creek and came to rest against a tree on the east side of the creek. Saunders says two of the ten passengers died in the van, while two others were thrown from the mini-van and one of them also died. Saunders says the 10 people in the van were Hispanic males traveling from Arizona to Illinois, but they aren’t yet releasing their identities. He says the language barrier has made piecing together what happened a slow process. Saunders says they don’t know who was driving the van and how fast it was going. He says they do know that it was well under the posted speed limit, but they don’t know why it was traveling so slowly. Saunders says the truck driver, who also has not been identified, was not hurt. The van was supposed to hold a maximum of seven people. Saunders says the accident is tragic and sends a message about overloading a vehicle. He says whenever you have a vehicle that’s a seven passenger vehicle that’s occupied by more people than the vehicle has seatbelts, you run the risk of being killed or injured in an accident. Saunders says Iowa troopers are working with their counterparts in Arizona and Illinois to try and find out more details about the 10 people in the van.
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