fatal crash

Five people, including three children, were killed in a wreck on State Highway 6 near Clifton on Monday morning.

Two women and three Valley Mills Independent School District students were killed in a two-vehicle wreck early Monday morning on State Highway 6 near Clifton in Bosque County, Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. David Roberts said.

Troopers were called to State Highway 6, about two miles south of Clifton, and found a 1999 Nissan passenger van and a 2014 Ford pickup truck damaged from an apparent crash, Roberts said. Troopers said both vehicles were traveling south when the Nissan, driven by Janith Murphree, 48, of Clifton, attempted to make a U-turn in front of the truck, driven by Steven Penney, 39, also of Clifton.

Roberts said Murphree pulled over to the shoulder of the highway and slowed before making the U-turn. As she attempted to turn the vehicle from the shoulder, Penney, who was also driving south, hit Murphee’s van.

Murphee was pronounced dead at the scene, along with passenger Lavira Hallmark, 66, and two young girls. Another young girl was taken to Goodall Witcher Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

All three children, ages 8, 9, and 13, were students at Valley Mills ISD. They were headed to school when the wreck occurred, Superintendent Mike Kelly wrote in a letter to parents Monday afternoon.

“We are deeply saddened to inform you that three of our students passed away this morning in an automobile accident on the way to school. We extend our sincere condolences and heartfelt sympathy to the Hallmark and Murphree families and their friends, as they will certainly be in our thoughts and prayers,” Kelly wrote. “Students and staff may react to this tragedy in different ways, expressing their feelings in response to the loss of one of our school community members, some more intensely than others. Crisis counselors are currently providing support for students and will remain on campus as long as they are needed.”

Roberts said Penney was injured in the crash, but suffered “non-incapacitating” injuries. Penney was traveling alone at the time of the crash.

Troopers closed the highway for about five hours to investigate the crash. The roadway was reopened at about 12:30 p.m.

Roberts said no charges are being considered as a result of the crash.

Valley Mills ISD starts spring break next week.

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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