NTSB investigator discusses I-65 crash investigation process

Authorities confirm that 10 people were killed in a two-vehicle crash on Interstate 65 near...
Authorities confirm that 10 people were killed in a two-vehicle crash on Interstate 65 near Greenville on June 19, 2021.(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 8:02 PM CDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s one of the toughest jobs anyone could have - trying to figure out what led to a massive crash with multiple fatalities such as the catastrophe two weeks ago on Interstate 65 north near Greenville. Getting to the truth fell in the lap of the National Transportation Safety Board.

It takes an investigative mind and a whole lot of patience, especially when you’re dealing with so many moving parts of any major interstate crash.

The wreck on I-65 north near Greenville was one that caught the interest of the country, one reason among many why the NTSB got involved.

“But just from experience we have commercial motor vehicles. We have multiple fatalities. We have a large highway,” said NTSB highway inspector David Pereira.

Pereira has seen it all. He says it’s like trying to put together a giant puzzle starting from the ground up. Pereira agreed to be interviewed as long as we didn’t ask specific questions about the I-65 wreck because it remains under investigation.

“So it is very time-consuming. Again, it starts at the scene, You might see us on the scene for a year,” Pereira.

There are all kinds of records to sort through, black boxes to retrieve and interviews to conduct, not only with survivors but bystanders as well. In this case, the NTSB assigned 10 investigators who physically made the trip to Butler County and stayed for a while.

“So interviews are very important to us. Any information that we can get, video information, eyewitnesses, vehicle witnesses...so yes, that’s very critical,” Pereira said.

The final report of what happened is not expected for at least a year, a detailed report that’ll state facts, not a conclusion. Why does it take so long?

“Because we want to get it right,” Pereira said.

Getting to the truth, a process.

A prelim report is expected in about three weeks but that will not be the final document.

The NTSB says that while it anticipates a final report in about a year or so, additional information could be added if there is something new to include in the final report.

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