WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Officials have released the names of a father and child killed in a crash on I-235 Wednesday night in West Des Moines.
Police say 36-year-old Jacob Griffiths of Urbandale and six-year-old Wyatt Griffiths died in the accident. Another female child in the vehicle is listed in critical condition at Blank Children’s Hospital.
The crash happened just before 8:00 p.m. Wednesday when Griffiths, who was driving eastbound, crashed his truck into a support pillar for the 50th Street overpass.
Witnesses rushed to the damaged truck and broke out the rear windows to get the two kids out of the back seat. Jacob and Wyatt were pronounced dead at the scene. The other child was rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Those who drove by the aftermath of the crash say they were shaken up.
“It was just surrounded by police and I saw a guy pulling, wiping blood off his hands and everything else” said Cole Ledbetter.
Ledbetter said he knew the instant he saw the crash that it was as bad as it looked.
“I told my girlfriend, ‘that one doesn’t look good’ and as soon as we saw the front end of the truck I turned to her and said ‘somebody didn’t make it in that'” he said.
Court records show Griffiths’ wife sought a protective order against him in August, claiming he threatened to hurt or kill her, himself, and police officers.
The following month, records show the order was replaced by a new agreement, in which Griffiths was barred from contacting his wife, but was also granted temporary custody of his children.
Investigators have not given a reason or speculated as to why Griffiths’ vehicle left the road.
With 10 days left in the year, 2016 has already surpassed 2015 in terms of fatal crashes; and it isn’t close.
There have now been 84 more deadly accidents than this time last year.
Sgt. Nathan Ludwig of the Iowa State Patrol says he’s frustrated because often times, drivers can prevent these accidents themselves.
“Law enforcement can only do so much, but you drive up and down this interstate and it’s not uncommon to see someone driving over 100 mph, and people looking at their phone. I think people have just become so relaxed and are taking driving as second nature” said Ludwig.
Ludwig says because there is always a chance for winter weather in the early months of 2017, drivers need to be proactive to make sure the state gets off to a good start in terms of lowering the number of fatalities.
“The weather can change in an instant, so make sure you take time to look at that map. Just because the road is clear doesn’t mean go 70 mph” said Ludwig.