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Two days after the crash, NTSB officials said their initial belief was that the young boy had been driving, but subsequent DNA testing determined it was his 38-year-old father.
“To date, the investigation has not found evidence of a sudden or rapid loss of tire air pressure or any other indicators of catastrophic failure of the pickup truck’s front left tire,” officials wrote in the preliminary report. “However, all aspects of the crash remain under investigation while the NTSB determines the probable cause, with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar events.”
NTSB Director of Highway Safety Robert Molloy told reporters in a briefing on Thursday that investigators were still determining the speeds of the two vehicles, but that the speed limit on the rural road was 75 mph.
Malloy said the initial conclusion that the boy was driving was made by a team of investigators, but that their work was made harder by virtue of this being a “very high energy collision” that was head on.
“As a result of that there was a lot of catastrophic damage to the vehicle. In addition, there was a post-crash fire,” Malloy said. “This made understanding some of the details of the crash very difficult.”
Malloy declined to say whether officials had apologized to the boy’s family, but said victims’ loved ones had been made aware of the preliminary report prior to its release.