New information released Tuesday afternoon revealed a fatal crash on Highway 281 South may have been caused by a lack of safety cones in the road.
The crash happened mid-morning on Monday near the Donella exit.
Investigators said an SUV crashed into the back of a parked tractor trailer that had only partially pulled off the road on the right-hand side. Part of the trailer was still jutting into the right-hand lane.
The crash killed Justin Kalak, 7, who was in the backseat of the SUV alongside his sister, Julianne, 5. Julianne survived the crash uninjured.
Their legal guardian and step great-grandfather Ramon Alvarado, 43, was driving the SUV. He was airlifted to University Medical Center and remains in critical condition.
The driver of the tractor trailer, Gustavo Rissopatron, 48, told police his rig stalled out and forced him to pull over.
The police report states Rissopatron failed to put out safety cones behind his rig to alert on-coming drivers.
Family members said Tuesday that they don’t blame Rissopatron for the accident, and said they are praying for him as well.
Mary Elizabeth Frizzell, Kalak’s great-grandmother and legal guardian, spoke to the media at University Hospital on Tuesday.
“We’re trying to do the best that we can,” said Frizzell. “The Lord said let the little children come, and now my little boy is there with Him.”
Angel Diaz, Alavarado’s sister, said the family is trying to stay positive in the wake of tragedy.
“He was a precious child,” said Alvarado. “It’s really hard right now. The only thing we can do is pray and ask for prayers.”
Funeral services have not yet been scheduled.
It is not yet known if Rissopatron will be charged or cited in connection with the fatal accident.