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Two wrecks near Sonora on Saturday left six dead and five injured.
Six people were killed after their sport utility vehicle was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer at 11:13 a.m. near mile marker 83 northbound on Interstate 65. The SUV then caught fire, said Norman Chaffins, Kentucky State Police Post 4 spokesman.
The people who died were identified as residents of Marion, Wis., Chaffins said.
They were James Gollnow, 62, and his wife, Barbara Gollnow, 62. Also killed were Marion Champnise, 92, Sarina Gollnow, 18, Gabriel Zumiga, 10, and Soledad Smith, 8. Two of the children were foster children, Chaffins said.
Deputy Hardin County Coroner Kenneth Spangenberger, one of the four staff members from the coroner’s office who helped process the scene of the crash, said all of the bodies were transferred to the state medical examiner’s office for autopsy.
Cause of death is expected to be determined after autopsy, he said.
Two other foster children were injured in the crash. They were identified as Hope Hoth, 15, and Aidian Ejnik, 12, Chaffins said.
The children’s injuries were not considered life-threatening. Hoth was flown to a hospital in Lexington and Ejnik to a hospital in Louisville, he said.
The truck driver, whose name hasn’t been released, told police the SUV in front of him stopped or slowed quickly for an unknown reason. The truck driver was following too closely to stop in time, Chaffins said.
That crash was followed by another 16 minutes later at the same location but on the southbound side of the interstate, Chaffins said.
Four vehicles collided, injuring three. One was injured critically, Chaffins said
The names of those injured in that crash haven’t been released.
Police didn’t know Saturday evening what caused the second crash. They plan to investigate whether rubbernecking was a factor, Chaffins said.
Both wrecks still are under investigation.
After the wrecks, traffic was backed up for miles in each direction after police closed the interstate in both directions between exits 81 and 86. The road was closed from the time of the crash until about 4:55 p.m.
The Elizabethtown Fire Department, the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office and KSP Commercial Vehicle Enforcement also responded to the wrecks.
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.