The car driven by their mother was hit by another driver who may have been using her cellphone, reported the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.
Siblings Tiffany Williams, 17; Michael G. Williams; and Danielle Williams, 12, were slain in the crash in Bastrop, Texas, on March 29. Peyton Mackenzie Irwin, a family friend, also died in the crash.
Their mother, Pamela Mary Williams, 53, was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition, according to the paper.
The mother stopped to make a left turn off Texas Highway 21 about 30 miles southeast of Austin. That’s when a 2004 Ford F-150 crashed into the rear of their Toyota Corolla, the New York Post reported.
“All were traveling with the mother of the siblings to San Antonio to watch an older sibling perform with the Huntsville High School Grenadier Guard Drill Team at Nationals Competition,” school district officials said in a statement on Facebook.
Dan Whitaker, the owner of a nearby gun store, told the Statesman that video surveillance from his store shows the pickup truck had time to avoid the crash before it hit the Corolla from behind. He said the Corolla’s blinker was on while waiting to turn.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said the truck was going 58 mph and didn’t apply its brakes until about 0.6 seconds before the crash, suggesting the driver was distracted by a cellphone, the Statesman reported.
The truck’s driver and passenger weren’t injured in the crash. They were identified as Juan Jose Hernandez, 18 and his passenger, Jacqueline Gaspar, 18, of Houston, according to the Post.
Williams’s son Jeremy Bowens told KHOU that he told his mother that her three kids were killed.
“It’s just really hard to find the words to console her,” Bowens told the news outlet. “It’s still so early and we’re trying to deal with the shock of it.”
“The death of any young person, much less four, is a loss that, in one way or another, affects us all,” the school district said in the statement. “The district has arranged for the assistance of additional school personnel, such as counselors, psychologists and administrators to help our students and school community deal with these losses. This support will be available beginning Monday morning and will continue as needed.”
School officials called on parents to “offer support to your child during this time” following the deaths.
“If you have any concerns regarding your child’s reaction to this loss, please contact your child’s teacher, school counselor or any member of the administrative staff,” the district noted, adding, “We ask that you please join us as we extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathy to the families as they mourn.”
A GoFundMe page was also set up by a friend to help deal with funeral costs.
Traffic Deaths Down Across US in 2018
U.S. traffic deaths fell 3.1 percent in the first six months of 2018, according to preliminary figures released in October 2018, Reuters reported.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that 2017 traffic deaths fell by 1.8 percent to 37,133 after traffic deaths rose sharply in the previous two years, according to final figures.
The U.S. traffic fatality rate fell to 1.08 deaths per 100 million miles traveled for the first half of 2018.
The fatality rate in 2017 was 1.16 million deaths per 100 million miles traveled—the second highest rate since 2008.
“This is good news and bad news,” said Deborah Hersman, CEO of the National Safety Council, CNBC reported. “The total number of fatalities is not getting worse, but the situation is not getting better.”