updated 8/10/2004 10:52:28 PM ET 2004-08-11T02:52:28

An elderly man driving a van the wrong way on a Texas highway struck another van head-on, killing himself and six other people.

Virgil Hall, 79, was driving south in a northbound lane on U.S. 69 when he slammed into the van Monday evening, said Lisa Block, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety. Three people were injured; the victims in the other van included an infant, Block said.

“All I saw was the white van spinning around in a big puff of smoke, and I got out to see if I could help,” said witness Rita Tucker. “Then I heard someone screaming, ‘Oh, my God, there’s a baby over here!”’

Authorities do not know why Hall was in the wrong lane.

Hall’s passenger, granddaughter Crystal Barnes, 15, was hospitalized in stable condition, authorities said. Two children in the other van, Jonathan Jimenez, 4, and Joseph Jimenez, 3, were in critical condition, said Christy McAlester, a dispatcher for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Hall and Crystal Barnes were wearing seat belts, but no one in the other van was, McAlester said.

The other victims were identified as driver Lorie Fields McClain, 36, her fiance David Wayne Barnes, 48, and her daughter Sandy McClain, 10; Barnes’ daughter Latoshia Ann Barnes, 26, her husband Encarnacion Jimenez, 51, and her daughter Jayln Barnes, 1.

Trooper Jean Steely said they were driving home from a dinner in Tyler, according to their family members.

The injured teen was not related to the Barnes family members in the other van.

Bullard is about 100 miles southeast of Dallas.

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