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8 forestry workers killed in rural Mississippi crash

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still investigating "all aspects" of a fatal crash on June 3 near Scooba, Mississippi, that claimed the lives of eight people. Among them were four brothers. The NTSB's preliminary report, however, provides some information about what happened on a rural two-lane highway when a box truck struck a van in which the eight people who died were traveling.

According to the federal agency, the truck crossed the centerline of the highway, striking the van in the pre-dawn hours on a bridge about 20 minutes from Macon. The van's driver told investigators that he swerved but was unable to avoid being hit. The van was pushed into the guardrails. None of the eight passengers who died were wearing seat belts.

All of the men in the van appear to have been related - - including the driver. The local sheriff said that the scene was particularly devastating. He said, "We had rescue workers there who said that out of 25 to 30 years they've been doing this, they haven't had one this bad."

The van was owned by Sharp Forestry, which is based in Columbus. The passengers were workers who were on their way from Macon, Mississippi, to Monroeville, Alabama, where they were supposed to cut trees. The Mississippi Highway Patrol ticketed the van driver because he didn't have a driver's license.

It wasn't reported why the truck driver crossed over the line into oncoming traffic. The truck belonged to an Alabama-based company called Overnight Parts Alliance. The company has had nine crashes reported over the past two years. The driver did not have a commercial driver's license.

In many crashes -- as appears to be the case in this one -- there is plenty of blame to go around on both sides. However, law enforcement and other investigators can work to help determine who can and should be held liable so that victims and surviving loved ones get the compensation they need and deserve to move forward.

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