Friday marks one year since the deadly, chain reaction pileup crash on Interstate 35W in Fort Worth that killed six people and injured dozens more.
On Friday, Fort Worth city leaders gathered with family members of the victims on the anniversary of the crash. A memorial including a plaque has been placed along Riverside Park in Fort Worth. Mayor Mattie Parker said the February 2021 crash involving more than 130 vehicles was one of the worst accidents in the city's history.
"Our men and women, our police officers… our firefighters, Medstar…you show up every day and do amazing work. It breaks my heart that you had to be on display in that way," Mayor Parker said.
The ceremony Friday paid tribute to those who died on Feb. 11, 2021, along with first responders who came to the rescue. Tiffany Gerred, 34, is one of the six people who died in the crash and her family had been spending the past few months launching an effort to honor those who came to the rescue that day. On Friday, they made a personal delivery of snacks and drinks to Fort Worth Fire Department's Station 14 team.
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"Fire Station 14 was designated to the particular part of the freeway, where my sister’s accident particular happened," Tiffany's brother Adam explained. "You don’t always think about the people who had to be there on the scene and try to rescue as many as they can and see what they saw that day."
One of the firefighters who responded that day was Matthew Goode with Station 14.
"We show up, and there’s already a couple of crews there," Goode recalled. "You just look for where you can help most, so we got all of our tools off and just start going to work. Looking for folks. If we could hear anybody, that’s where we started."
The preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board, released just days ago, puts the official tally of vehicles involved at 135.
Each of those vehicles was southbound on I-35W at about 6 a.m. on Feb. 11, 2021, when, just past the NE 28th Street overpass, they lost control and crashed on the icy highway.
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Many of those vehicles were trapped between the concrete barriers that wall off the southbound managed toll lane, so there was no practical way for them to avoid crashing into the vehicles in front of them.
Of the six people who were killed, two of them had exited their vehicles on that icy morning. Paramedics later transported 36 additional people to area hospitals with various injuries.
Fort Worth Winter Storm Pileup
Sydney McCoy was headed to work when she became among the very first drivers to lose control on the sheet of ice.
“Driving along I felt like I was being more cautious, driving like a granny,” McCoy said with a laugh. “The roads were fine, so you start to accelerate to a normal speed limit. And then I came over the hill and I remember just the sensation that ‘Okay, I don’t have control anymore.’”
McCoy’s SUV surprisingly only sustained minor damage from hitting the barrier wall that separates the managed toll lane from the regular southbound lanes of the interstate, but she came to a stop facing the wrong direction on the highway and was forced to watch vehicle after vehicle proceed to slam directly into one another.
“You start seeing the first car hit, and then the next one, and the tempo kept speeding up back-to-back,” McCoy recalled. “When it was all said and done, I was really surprised to learn that there were only six fatalities because you really feel like you are just witnessing one death after another. It was just awful.”
The preliminary NTSB report indicated that there is still an active investigation into what efforts were taken to treat the icy road conditions prior to the pileup. According to the report, it had been below freezing in the immediate area for 36 consecutive hours prior to the incident.