The drummer for country music star Kellie Pickler was in serious condition Sunday as one of five people hospitalized in two crashes that happened within minutes at the same spot on Interstate 65 in central Kentucky and killed six.
Pickler’s manager, Larry Fitzgerald, said 36-year-old Gregg Lohman of Goodlettsville, Tenn., suffered serious injuries in the wreck Saturday. He remained in serious condition Sunday at University of Louisville Hospital.
Kentucky State Police Master Trooper Norm Chaffins said Lohman, who also works as a music instructor at Tennessee State University, had head and neck injuries after a four-vehicle wreck in the southbound lanes. It happened about 15 minutes after a fiery crash involving a tractor-trailer and an SUV on the northbound side of the highway.
On her Facebook page, Pickler said Lohman wasn’t just a drummer, “he is family.”
“I believe in the miracles and the power of prayer, so it would mean the world to me, my band and Gregg’s family if you would please keep him in your prayers,” Pickler wrote. “Thank y’all so much.”
Six people from rural Wisconsin were killed when the tractor-trailer rear-ended their Ford Expedition at about 11:13 a.m. EST Saturday in the northbound lanes near Glendale, Ky.
Killed were 62-year-old driver James Gollnow and his wife, 62-year-old Barbara Gollnow; 92-year-old friend Marion Champnise; 18-year-old Sarina Gollnow, relationship unknown; and foster children 10-year-old Gabriel Zumig and 8-year-old Soledad Smith.
Two other foster children survived and were taken to area hospitals. Police identified them as Hope Hoth, 15, who was transported to a hospital in Lexington with burns and a broken spine; and Aidian Ejnik, 12, who was taken to Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville with cuts to the back of his head.
Barb Gollnow of Shawano, Wis., the sister-in-law of those killed, called the collision “a horrible tragedy,” but said details about her family’s trip that led them through the Bluegrass State would have to come from the surviving children in the family. The children did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press left through Gollnow.
State Police said the family was returning to Wisconsin from a vacation to Orlando, Fla.
Chaffins said the tractor-trailer was following too closely to the SUV to stop before the collision. The Expedition was “totally engulfed in flames. It was totally destroyed by the fire,” he said, adding, “It’s just a charred mess.” Distracted driving is among the causes being investigated.
“That’s one of the points we’re looking into,” Chaffins said. “We haven’t pinpointed the exact cause.”
Chaffins said despite snow flurries, weather was not a factor in Saturday’s crashes. The driver was identified as 47-year-old Ibrahim Fetic of Troy, Mich. Police were looking at his driving logs and collected a blood sample.
The National Transportation Safety Board has consulted with law enforcement and doesn’t currently plan to open an investigation, spokesman Peter Knudson said.
The two crashes shut down the busy stretch of highway for about five hours.
Chaffins said police were investigating whether rubbernecking was the cause of the wrecks in the southbound lanes.
In that wreck, the Freightliner driven by 58-year-old Mark Bowser from Lewisburg, Ohio, struck Lohman’s vehicle, then hit a 2005 Saturn SUV driven by 53-year-old Victor Martinka of Glenview, Ill.
Chaffins said Martinka’s vehicle then struck a 2012 Chevrolet SUV driven by Stephanie Yates, 55, of Louisville. Chaffins said none of the other drivers were hospitalized.
The wreck on Saturday happened just north of where a tractor-trailer crossed the median and struck a van carrying 11 people in 2010. In the wake of that crash, the NTSB called for a ban on talking on cellphones or texting by long-distance truckers.
(Karnowski reported from Minneapolis, Minn.)
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