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11 killed after semi hits van on interstate

State police have confirmed 11 people were killed after a semi crashed into a passenger van along Interstate 65 in Hart County.

The crash happened around 5:30 Central time Friday morning, near the 63 mile marker in Munfordville.

Police say the semi crossed the median and crashed into the van. The semi then hit a rock wall and burst into flames, killing the driver of the semi instantly.

Officials say the van was carrying a Mennonite family from the Burkesville area, in Cumberland County. The deputy coroner said one of those killed was an infant, the others killed were adults.

The family's pastor says they were heading to a wedding in Iowa.

The victims in the van were all identified Friday afternoon.

Officials say John Esh and his wife, Sadie Esh, were killed, along with their adult daughters, Rose Esh, Anna Esh, Rachel Esh, and Rachel's 22-year-old boyfriend, Joel Gingrich.

John and Sadie Esh's son, Leroy Esh, and his wife, Naomi Esh, were also killed.

Leroy and Naomi Esh's 2-month-old adopted son, Jalen Esh, was killed as well.

22-year-old Ashley Cramer Franklin, a friend of the Esh family, also died.

Leroy and Naomi Esh' adopted sons, Johnny and Josiah Esh, survived the crash. They're now being treated at Caverna Hospital.

Officials say both Johnny and Josiah Esh were both in child restraint seats in the back of the van.

Officials say the driver of the semi was heading home to Alabama, with a load of steel hubs. They also say his semi had been broken down in Michigan for 3 days, and had just been fixed.

The name of the semi driver has not yet been released. Officials say they're having a hard time identifying him because he was burned beyond recognition.

Police aren't yet sure why the semi crossed the median, and hit the van.

"We don't know whether he fell asleep, had a heart attack, or there was another driver involved. We don’t know," Kentucky State Police Trooper Charles Swiney said.

Coroners from around the state have been called to the scene to help with the investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board is also sending a team to investigate.

State police say this is the deadliest crash in Kentucky since the Carrollton bus crash in 1988. 27 people were killed in that crash.

Northbound Interstate 65 was closed for several hours at the scene of the crash, but all lanes have since reopened to traffic.


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