A Missouri couple who were married for 50 years died together this week when a tractor-trailer barreled into their SUV on a highway, authorities said.
Leonard Wayne Byrd, 72, and Rebecca Joyce Byrd, 66, were pronounced dead at the scene Monday afternoon on Interstate 55 in Jefferson County, where their SUV was struck head-on by a tractor-trailer after it rear-ended another vehicle and plowed through a barrier into oncoming traffic, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The five-vehicle crash started when a 2015 Chevrolet Cruze traveling below the minimum speed limit was struck from behind by the tractor-trailer, causing the compact car to overturn on the side of the interstate, the Missouri Highway Patrol said.
The truck then hit a 2013 Acura TL before driving into the median and plowing through a cable barrier and entering the southbound lanes, smashing into the Byrds’ 2020 Kia Telluride, authorities said.
The cable barrier also struck a 2015 Nissan Altima driving southbound. The drivers of all five vehicles, including Rebecca Byrd, had seat belts on, while her husband did not, authorities said.
The driver of the Cruze, a 23-year-old man from Arnold, was hurt, but no other injuries were reported.
The Byrds, of Ste. Genevieve, are survived by six children and six grandchildren. They were returning home from visiting a relative in Minnesota at the time, their granddaughter told the newspaper.
“I’m glad they were together,” said 26-year-old Brittany Byrd. “They’ve been together all along and they went together.”
The couple renewed their wedding vows in January after a surprise 50th wedding anniversary bash at a Red Lobster. Leonard Byrd, an Army vet who served in Vietnam, had a hunch something was up and changed into a tuxedo ahead of dinner that night prior to the ceremony at an American Legion Post 39 in Leadington, Brittany Byrd said.