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Transportation safety investigators begin the search for the cause of a fatal crash between a semitrailer and a commercial bus on a New Mexico highway that killed 8 people and seriously injured others (Aug. 31) AP

Eight people dead from Thursday's crash near Thoreau

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FARMINGTON — Relatives of a Farmington woman are grieving after they learned their mother is believed to be one of the eight people who died in Thursday's crash involving a Greyhound bus and a semi-trailer in rural New Mexico.

The daughters of Sadie Thomas, 50, believe their mother died after one of them spoke to a medical investigator.

Val Thomas, of Waxahachie, Texas, learned about the news from her sister Felicia Dickenson, of Edmond, Oklahoma.

Val told The Daily Times Dickenson provided a clothing description and a description of Sadie's hair style to a medical investigator Friday morning.

The investigator told Dickenson it's possible Sadie is among the deceased.

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"I was in shock, it was really hard for me to believe it," Val Thomas said.

Sadie's death has not been verified by state authorities.

The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator and the New Mexico State Police declined to identify Sadie as one of the deceased.

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Lt. Elizabeth Armijo, state police spokesperson, said OMI will release the names of the deceased at an appropriate time when all appropriate notifications have been made.

The fatal crash occurred around noon Thursday near Thoreau on Interstate 40 in between Grants and Gallup, according to a New Mexico State Police press release.

A semi-trailer traveling east had its front, driver-side tire fail, and the tire tread became separated from the vehicle, the press release states.

Once the tire failure occurred, the semi-trailer started to cross the median and collided with the bus in the westbound lanes, State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said during a press conference this afternoon.

There were 48 occupants of the bus, including the driver, Luis Alvarez, 49, of Santa Teresa, who was identified as one of the deceased. Seven people including Alvarez were found dead at the scene.

A patient at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque later died, bringing the number of fatalities to eight, according to state police. Twenty-six passengers were injured.

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Sadie had been visiting Dickenson in Oklahoma and boarded the Greyhound bus at a station in the Oklahoma City area Wednesday evening.

Val was texting Sadie Thursday morning when Sadie stated the bus was leaving Tucumari. 

After the bus crash, family members scrambled to call law enforcement officials and hospitals to try and find information on the incident and locate Sadie. None of the hospitals called had Sadie listed as a patient.

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Three children are among passengers seriously injured in a bus crash involving a semitrailer and a Greyhound bus on a New Mexico interstate. Eight passengers are reported dead. Identification of the deceased has begun. (Aug 31) AP

Val said her mother hasn't responded to any of the family's phone calls or text messages following the crash.

Sadie would not hesitate to call a family member in an emergency, Val said. The data plan on Sadie's phone was last used around 5 a.m. Thursday, according to Val.

Val's sister Pamela Thomas, who was expecting a child, could not reach her mother to tell her she going into labor Thursday afternoon. She gave birth to a baby boy around 4:50 p.m. Thursday, according to Val.

Sadie began traveling to Oklahoma and Texas to visit her daughters more often after her husband Edison Thomas passed away in July 2017.

Before she retired, Sadie used to work at the San Juan Center nursing home in Farmington.

Val described her mother as someone who liked to sew, explaining that Sadie liked to make blankets and was planning on making a quilt using Edison's shirts.

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A Greyhound bus headed to Phoenix crashed in Thoreau, N.M. along Interstate 40 on August 30, 2018 Courtesy of Alex Higgins

The last time the family traveled to Farmington was for Edison's burial.

Dickenson was en route this afternoon to the Four Corners region. Val said she was thankful for her coworkers, who collected money to help her family pay for travel expenses.

Val updated her Facebook profile picture Friday evening to a photo of her parents with a heart framed around them, stating they were reunited again and that she loved them.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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