BULLARD, Texas – An elderly man driving a van the wrong way on an east Texas highway struck another van, killing himself and six other people, authorities said.
Virgil Hall, 79, was driving south in a northbound lane on U.S. 69 when he slammed into another van Monday evening, said Lisa Block, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety. Besides Hall, six people in the other van were killed, including an infant, she said.
Several passing motorists stopped to try to help.
"All I saw was the white van spinning around in a big puff of smoke, and I got out to see if I could help," said Rita Tucker. "Then I heard someone screaming, 'Oh, my God, there's a baby over here!"'
The dead in the other van were identified as driver Lorie Fields McClain, 36, and passengers David Wayne Barnes, 48; Sandy McClain, 10; Latoshia Ann Barnes, 26; Encarnacion Jimenez, 51; and Jayln Barnes, 1.
Hall's passenger, Crystal Barnes, 15, was hospitalized in stable condition, authorities said. Two children in the other van, Jonathan Jimenez, 4, and Joseph Jimenez, 3, were in critical condition, said Christy McAlester, a dispatcher for the Texas Department of Public Safety (search).
Hall and Crystal Barnes were wearing seat belts, but no one in the other van was, McAlester said. A third vehicle was apparently hit after the head-on crash, but no one was injured in it, she said.
Block said investigators were trying to determine why Hall was drove the wrong way.
Bullard is about 100 miles southeast of Dallas.