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Fatal crash in Kentucky kills 6 Wisconsin residents and injures 5 others

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) -- Police say six members of an extended Wisconsin family were killed and two injured when their SUV was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer and burst into flames on a Kentucky highway. Minutes later, another crash in the opposite direction injured three, one critically.

Police say the first crash happened at 11:13 a.m. EST Saturday on northbound Interstate 65 near Elizabethtown.

Police say all occupants of the SUV were from Marion, Wis. They were identified as James Gollnow, 62, and his wife Barbara, 62; Marion Champnise, 92; Sarina Gollnow, 18; Soledad Smith, 8; and Gabriel Zumiga, 10.

Police said Soledad and Gabriel were foster children.

The two survivors were also foster children. Police identified them as Hope Hoth, 15, and Aidian Ejnik, 12.

Police say after the SUV was hit, it hit the car in front of it, but the driver of that vehicle had only minor injuries.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Six people from Wisconsin were killed and two were injured Saturday when their SUV was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer and burst into flames on a Kentucky highway, state police said. Minutes later, another crash in the opposite direction injured three, one critically.

The first crash happened at 11:13 a.m. EST on northbound Interstate 65 south of Elizabethtown. In the second crash, four vehicles collided at the same location on the southbound side.

Master Trooper Norman Chaffins said an extended family from Marion, Wis., was riding in a 1999 Ford Expedition when it was hit from behind. He didn't know where they were headed.

The SUV was "totally engulfed in flames. It was totally destroyed by the fire," he said, adding, "It's just a charred mess."

He said one eyewitness told police two people emerged from the blaze and one appeared to be on fire.

The victims were identified as James Gollnow, 62, and his wife, Barbara Gollnow, 62; Marion Champnise, 92, a friend; Sarina Gollnow, 18, relationship unknown; and foster children Gabriel Zumig, 10, and Soledad Smith, 8.

The two survivors were also foster children. Police identified them as Hope Hoth, 15, who was transported to a hospital in Lexington with burns and a broken spine; and Aidian Ejnik, 12, who was taken to Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville with cuts to the back of his head.

Chaffins described both of the children's injuries as non-life-threatening.

The two crashes shut down the busy stretch of highway for about five hours.

Chaffins says despite snow flurries, weather was not a factor in either crash.

The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured and was cooperating with police, Chaffins said. He was not identified.

"He's obviously pretty torn up about everything," he said.

The southbound crash involved a tractor-trailor and three other vehicles and Chaffins said police were investigating whether rubbernecking was the cause.

Those injured in the second crash were taken to hospitals but were not identified.


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