Police identify all 18 victims of tragic I-75 tractor trailer crash

Police identify all 18 victims of tragic I-75 tractor trailer crash

Witness: Tractor trailer 'mowed cars down' in 9-vehicle crash

June 26th, 2015 by Shelly Bradbury in Local Regional News

Emergency crews work the scene of a multiple-vehicle accident on I-75 in this Chattanooga Police Department photo.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Correction: Jason Ramos was 36, not 31 as originally reported.

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE

Chattanooga police have identified the six people killed in a nine-vehicle crash on I-75 Thursday evening.

Four people riding in a 2010 Toyota Scion were killed when the car caught fire during the crash. Tiffany Watts, 31, and Sandra Anderson, 50, from Tennessee both died, as well as two children, aged 8 and either 10 or 11. The children were from California.

Also killed was 31-year-old Jason Ramos, an employee at Dalton State, and Ocoee Middle School's band director, Brian Gallaher, 37.

Ramos worked as the college's assistant director of residential life, spokeswoman Pam Partain said in a release. He'd been working at the North Georgia college for about two years.

"Jason's incredible work ethic and humor are the two things that I valued the most in working with him," said Natalie Bates, Director of Residential Life. "He brought a lot of fun and humor to our office. and it was incredibly evident that he loved working with students and took pride in his job. This is a great loss to our roadrunner community and he will be sorely missed."

Members of the Ocoee Middle School are planning a candlelight vigil for Gallaher tonight.

"I was in the Cleveland High Band many years ago and it takes a lot to impress me," said Vicky Vicars. "Brian's middle school program impressed me quite a bit and I am so glad my child could have had him for a band instructor."

18 victims involved in I-75 wreck

KILLED:

Tiffany Watts, 31, from Tennessee, in 2010 Toyota Scion

Sandra Anderson, 50, from Tennessee, in 2010 Toyota Scion

Unidentified child, 8, from California, in 2010 Toyota Scion

Unidentified child, 10 or 11, from California, in 2010 Toyota Scion

Brian Gallaher, 37, from Tennessee, in 2010 Toyota Prius

Jason Ramos, 36, from Georgia/Ohio, in 2003 Mazda SW

INJURED

Marty Tumbleson, 30, from Tennessee, in 2005 Savana Van

Charles Allen Daniels, Jr., from Tennessee, in 2005 Savana Van

John Stanley, 57, from Mississippi, in 2007 Chevy Uplander Minivan

Nancy Stanley, 55, from Mississippi, in 2007 Chevy Uplander Minivan

Ryan Humphries, 24, from Tennessee, in 2001 Ford F150

Justin Lnox, 60, from Mississippi, in 2015 Cadillac CTS

NOT INJURED

Benjamin Scott Brewer, 39, from Kentucky - driver of the semi-truck

Charity Dawn Pennington, 38, from Kentucky, passenger in the semi-truck

Travis Close, 40, from Tennessee, in 2015 Toyota Tundra

Tina Close, 39, from Tennessee, in 2015 Toyota Tundra

Unidentified child, 2, from Tennessee, in 2015 Toyota Tundra

Unidentified child, 6, from Tennessee in 2015, Toyota Tundra

36-year-old Jason Ramos, an employee at Dalton State, was killed in a wreck on I-75. Ramos worked as the college's assistant director of residential life, spokeswoman Pam Partain said in a release. He'd been working at the North Georgia college for about two years.

36-year-old Jason Ramos, an employee at Dalton State,...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Two children are among the six people dead after a nine-vehicle crash on I-75 yesterday.

Police said eight of the nine vehicles involved in the fatal crash were stopped in the road because of construction when a tractor trailer came up from behind, was unable to stop and plowed into the vehicles.

Eighteen people were involved in the wreck. Six were taken to a local hospital and six required no medical treatment, according to police. 

Four people killed were in one vehicle, which was on fire, police said. The children were inside that vehicle. The other two people were killed in separate cars.

Police identified the truck driver as 39-year-old Benjamin Scott Brewer from Kentucky. He was driving north from Florida. Police say they don't know where he was heading.

Brewer is under investigation and has been interviewed by police, though authorities declined to release what he said.

This is the highest fatality crash in Chattanooga during the last 10 years, according to police. Before Thursday, only one person had been killed on the Chattanooga stretch of I-75 during the last five years. 

Jame Gillis, 35, said he was driving ahead of the crash and watched it in his rearview mirror.

"That truck was mowing cars down," he said. "I know that for sure. I saw them get hit."

Gillis pulled over and ran back into the fiery wreck to try to help people. Some men and women were already dead as he ran through, frantically looking for a fire extinguisher and screaming for help.

"It was the most shocking thing I've ever seen in my life," Gillis said. 

Gillis carried one woman, covered in fuel, away from her vehicle to safety. He said she survived.

"I can't get the images out of my head," Gillis said. 

The crash happened at 7:10 p.m. Thursday night, around Exit 11 on I-75 northbound. Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher called the wreck "one of the worst crashes I've seen."

Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said workers are in the middle of a resurfacing project, and the work zone stretches from from mile marker 13 to mile marker 19 on I-75 northbound. 

The work happens overnight, she said, from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The crash happened just before the construction zone, as the lanes were tapering down to make room for the work zone, Flynn said. 

She was not sure how many lanes were open at the spot the crash occurred. She added that TDOT had multiple warnings up about the work zone and said that the department followed all federal guidelines on how to set up the lane closures. 

"Ever message board from the 24-split to there was warning about this," she said. "We had a Highway Patrolman there in the taper with flashing lights on."

Brian Gallaher

Brian Gallaher

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Police said the family members of all the people killed in the crash have been notified. 

Ocoee Middle School's band director, Brian Gallaher, was one of the six people killed in the crash, according to Bradley County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Ramsey.

The Ocoee Middle School community was just beginning to mourn Friday morning, as news of Gallaher's death spread.

"I was in the Cleveland High Band many years ago and it takes a lot to impress me," said Vicky Vicars. "Brian's middle school program impressed me quite a bit and I am so glad my child could have had him for a band instructor."

Police have also confirmed that 36-year-old Jason Ramos, an employee at Dalton State, was killed in the wreck. 

Ramos worked as the college's assistant director of residential life, spokeswoman Pam Partain said in a release. He'd been working at the North Georgia college for about two years. 

"Jason's incredible work ethic and humor are the two things that I valued the most in working with him," said Natalie Bates, Director of Residential Life. "He brought a lot of fun and humor to our office. and it was incredibly evident that he loved working with students and took pride in his job. This is a great loss to our roadrunner community and he will be sorely missed."

Anyone with information on the crash can call reporter Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525.

CHATTANOOGA CAR FATALITIES, Year-to-date

2013 -13
2014 - 11
2015 - 19
Source: Chattanooga Police Department

Emergency crews work the scene of a multiple-vehicle accident on I-75 in the screenshot taken from TDOT's SmartWayTraffic website.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Traffic is backed up at the scene of an accident on I-75.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.