Fatal wreck on Interstate 40 in Smith County claims life of 11-year-old, leaves three severely injured

February 8, 2024

A fatal wreck on Interstate 40 in Smith County has claimed the life of an 11-year-old and left three others severely injured on Thursday, February 8, 2024 around 11:40am. The incident led to a partial shutdown of the interstate for several hours, causing significant traffic disruption.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP), the wreck occurred when a vehicle carrying the four victims, all from North Carolina, veered off the roadway. The driver, identified as Corixa Luz Esponza Valdes, 36, was behind the wheel along with passengers, Douglas Moises Lopez Castillo, 37, and a 10 and 11-year-old juvenile.

The vehicle, a 2003 Subaru Forester, was traveling westbound on Interstate 40 when it ran off the right side of the road near the 251.4 mile marker. Striking an embankment, the vehicle overturned, causing two juvenile males to be ejected from the vehicle and thrown onto the roadway.

The 11-year-old juvenile was struck by a passing tractor-trailer, resulting in fatal injuries. Both juveniles were not wearing seatbelts. The driver was wearing a seatbelt.

Emergency responders arranged for two helicopters to airlift the injured victims to nearby hospitals. The helicopters landed directly on Interstate 40. Smith County EMS, Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Gordonsville Police Department, Smith County Rescue Squad, THP, and New Middleton Fire Department responded to the scene.

The interstate was partially shut down for several hours as authorities worked to investigate the scene and clear the wreckage.

As the investigation into the incident continues, the driver of the vehicle, Corixa Luz Esponza Valdes, is facing charges related to the wreck.