WAWAYANDA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Three people were killed in a crash on Interstate 84 in Orange County, New York, on Wednesday.

For eight hours a westbound stretch of the highway was closed as accident investigators tried to piece together what happened in the pre-dawn darkness, CBS2’s Lou Young reported.

The gruesome fatal crash occurred when a 10-year-old Sedan loaded with three passengers and pets was hit from behind after running out of gas on the interstate.

“It’s a pretty square impact,” New York State Police Capt. Brendan Casey said. “The vehicle is pushed across the passing lane and into the center median. You can see what happened to the rear of the vehicle, it was a pretty bad scene.”

Two women, a 9-year-old child, and two dogs died during the crash. The horror was compounded by the fact that they were on the phone with a 911 operator in the dark when the truck came barreling up behind them.

“The operator reported she heard the impact and a dog yelp and that was it,” Casey said.

The driver was identified as 29-year-old Jesinia Valentin. Her daughter Angelina was in the backseat, while the other passenger’s identity was not immediately known.

The family was apparently moving from Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Virginia. Police said not puling off the highway was a fatal mistake.

“People should make every effort, especially in low light conditions, to get their vehicle off the driving lanes and off to the shoulder,” Casey said.

The highway reopened to traffic about midday. The driver of the truck, which was carrying auto-parts, was not injured or charged.

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