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Friend: 6 killed in ND crash were looking for work

Friend: 6 killed in ND crash were looking for work

December 29th, 2012 in News

Rescue personnel surround the scene of a fatal accident Wednesday on Interstate 94 near Jamestown, N.D. The North Dakota Highway Patrol says the crash between a semitrailer and the pickup has killed six men.

Photo by The Associated Press /News Tribune.

JAMESTOWN, N.D. (AP) - Six Missouri men killed in a crash on an icy North Dakota interstate were looking for work in the area, a family friend said.

Yolanda Lorge, president of the Hispanic advocacy organization Grupo Latino Americano in Springfield, Mo., said the driver, Martin Zuniga, owned a small construction company. He and the five men with him were headed to a work site, she said.

"That's what they were doing there," Lorge told the News-Leader newspaper. "They found a job there or something. You have to find work wherever you can."

The men were killed Wednesday when the Chevrolet pickup Zuniga was driving crossed the median on westbound Interstate 94 near Jamestown and was struck by an eastbound semitrailer, according to a North Dakota Highway Patrol news release.

Also killed were Zuniga's brother, Jose Isabel Avila, 54; Mayolo Lopez, 51; Albino Galicia Martinez, 43; Epitacio Acosta Padron, 50; and Herson Orellana, 34.

All of the men were from Springfield in southwestern Missouri except Zuniga who was from Republic near Springfield and Orellana who was from Nixa, also near Springfield. None was wearing seatbelts, police said.

The semitrailer driver was taken to a Jamestown hospital with minor injuries.

The crash remains under investigation. Alcohol is not believed to have been a factor.

The families of the men who were killed are trying to get their loved ones back to Missouri. Dee Pohl, parish administrator at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Springfield, said the church where several of the men were parishioners was awaiting word on funeral arrangements.

Lorge said the Zuniga family arrived in the Springfield area about 25 years ago.

"Martin, he came here with nothing," she said. "He didn't know much about construction, but he worked and he learned how to do just about anything."