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11 killed when tractor-trailer, van crash in Ky.

MUNFORDVILLE, Ky. - A tractor-trailer loaded with auto parts crossed a highway median Friday and slammed head-on into a van carrying a Mennonite family, killing 11 people before dawn on a hilly stretch of interstate.

The dead included an engaged couple and several members of their family, whose house burned down in December. Two children in the van were the only survivors of the crash.

After the collision, the truck smashed into a rock wall and burst into flames. Its driver, the lone occupant, was also killed.

A pastor for the family, Leroy Kauffman, said they were traveling to a wedding in Iowa, and the engaged couple planned their own wedding for July.

The crash was the deadliest single accident in Kentucky since a 1988 bus crash in which 27 people died when a church bus carrying a youth group was hit by a drunken driver.

On the section of the highway where Friday's crash occurred, about 75 miles south of Louisville, crews installed cable barriers last year to prevent vehicles from crossing the median into oncoming lanes, said Ann Gibson, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. But Trooper Charles Swiney of the Kentucky State Police said the barriers would not have stopped a fully loaded truck.

Kauffman said the family was from Burkesville, in southern Kentucky. Those killed were John and Sadie Esh and some of their children and grandchildren.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the wreck.

- AP

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