Eight die during holiday weekend traffic accidents

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Alabama State Troopers investigated eight traffic deaths during the extended Fourth of July weekend, according to a news release from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA).

One of those fatal wrecks occurred in nearby Butler County.

Hunter Gaston, 19, of McKenzie was killed when his truck ran off the road and overturned early on the morning of July 4. Gaston was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene. The passenger in the vehicle was taken to a local hospital to be treated.

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Another fatal crash occurred near Ozark Tuesday, but was not included in the eight traffic deaths as it fell just outside of the 96-hour window that was being examined. Dwayne Downey was killed in the crash when the International tractor-trailer that he was driving left the roadway and overturned.

Of the four killed in vehicles equipped with seat belts, only one was using a seat belt. The other four were riding motorcycles and were all wearing helmets.

The ALEA had prepared for the holiday weekend by partnering with local law enforcement agencies to bolster traffic enforcement in an effort to reduce traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities. They also participated in the safety campaigns Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and Operation Dry Water. It has not been reported what factor alcohol played in any of the fatal crashes, but Troopers assigned to Marine Patrol reported no boating fatalities.

Last year, in a 72-hour window, state troopers investigated five roadway fatalities and two boating fatalities.