Four dead after explosive morning accident

Four people died and four others were seriously hurt Wednesday when a tractor-trailer truck loaded with batteries burst into flames when hit by another 18-wheeler, police said.

The wreck occurred about 3:30 a.m. CDT on Lamar Avenue, which is also U.S. Highway 78, on the southern edge of the city.

Police Sgt. Vince Higgins said a truck loaded with "C-cell batteries" was stopped at a traffic light when it was rear ended by the other vehicle.

A witness told investigators a passenger car was also caught up in the crash, but Higgins said no remains of a car were found in the wreckage.

"We're thinking that car may have changed lanes and gotten away before the crash," he said.

Investigators had not determined why eight people - one man and seven women - were aboard the trucks or which of the trucks the victims were in.

Tractor-trailer rigs generally have no more than two drivers each.

"They were all out lying on the pavement," Higgins said. The dead and injured were not immediately identified, and the survivors were too badly hurt to talk with investigators, he said.

The male victim, who died in the crash, was believed to have been driving one of the trucks, Higgins said, and one of the females apparently was driving the other.

"We can only assume that at this point," he said. "The investigation is ongoing."

In response to a question, Higgins said police have no evidence so far that the people in the crash were illegal immigrants.