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It's been 37 years since the Log Town Hill crash in Van Buren

It has been 37 years since one of the deadliest crashes in the River Valley. In 1985, a semi-truck caused a fiery accident on Log Town Hill in Van Buren.

VAN BUREN, Ark. — Exactly 37 years ago, Linda Dickson was driving in Van Buren when she noticed in her rearview mirror an 18-wheeler that had just plowed into the side of a building.

"It was a life changing event” she recalled.  

The 18-wheeler was loaded with frozen pork steaks, lost its brakes, and came barreling down Log Town Hill. After hitting the railroad tracks at the train depot, the truck went airborne and landed on a car with people inside.  

“As we turned around to look back at the building, that’s when we noticed a vehicle bumper in the middle of the street and that’s when we realized that there were more people involved in this than we originally thought.”  Said Dickson.  

Linda is one of the few eyewitnesses alive to describe the tragedy. She remembers the sounds of the truck crossing the railroad and the collision.   

“It haunts me any time I think about it actually because the sounds were horrific," she recalled.  

There was an explosion after the crash and it took several hours to put the fire out and several days to clean up the wreckage that had killed nine people. 

In 1985, the building that the truck crashed into was a pharmacy, now it is a small park that marks the site where the accident happened. The park is dedicated to the memory of the nine people who lost their lives. Their names are on a plaque near the park’s entrance.  

“I think it’s a wonderful way to remember those folks whose lives were taken away from them so early — particularly the children.”  Said Dickson.  

This accident may have been 37 years ago, but Linda still has a heart full of gratitude that she was not involved in the crash.  

"It made me very thankful that we were two seconds earlier passing through that intersection,” said Dickson.  

The Van Buren City Council passed an ordinance reinforcing a law banning all 18-wheelers from traveling down Log Town Hill. A report from the National Transportation Safety Board showed the driver of the truck ignored posted signs meant to keep tractor-trailers off the road. 

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