Couple Married for 50 Years Killed After Tractor-Trailer Plowed Through Cable Barrier Hitting Car Head-On

A family in Missouri is in mourning after its matriarch and patriarch — who had been married for 50 years — were killed in a multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 55 on Monday.

Leonard Wayne Byrd, 72, and Rebecca Joyce Byrd, 66, of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, were pronounced dead at the scene after their 2020 Kia Telluride was struck head-on by a tractor-trailer that had previously hit two other vehicles and plowed through a cable barrier, according to a report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Authorities said the chain-reaction crash occurred around 1:30 p.m. when a 1993 Western Star that was traveling northbound came up behind a 2015 Chevrolet Cruze that was moving slower than the minimum speed limit. The driver of the truck applied the brakes, but rear-ended the Cruze and caused it to overturn on the side of the interstate.

The truck then collided with the right side of a 2013 Accura TL in the northbound lane before breaking through a barrier, veering into oncoming traffic and hitting the Byrds' SUV.

The impact caused by the cable barrier also struck a 2019 Nissan Altima in the southbound lane.

Wayne and Joyce, who went by their middle names, celebrated their golden anniversary in January, according to their granddaughter Brittany Byrd.

She told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that her grandparents were on their way home from visiting a relative in Minnesota when the crash occurred.

"I’m glad they were together," she said. "They’ve been together all along and they went together."

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said in their report that all five drivers of the vehicles involved in the collision were wearing seatbelts. Leonard, who was listed as a passenger, was not strapped into a safety device, according to police.

The driver of the Cruze, identified as 23-year-old Jacob Stevenson, was transported to Mercy Hospital South with moderate injuries, authorities said. Stevenson had been driving under the minimum speed limit due to a medical emergency, Cpl. Dallas Thompson of the Missouri Highway Patrol told the Post-Dispatch.

Both Stevenson and the Byrds' cars were totaled in the crash. Other vehicles suffered minor to moderate damages.

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