Authorities confirmed the death of a 13-year-old girl after an accident Sunday afternoon on Interstate 35 near Salado.

Monica Rodriguez of Belton died in the hospital after sustaining injuries in a four-vehicle accident that involved 15 people, said Harpin Myers, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The accident occurred around 4 p.m. Sunday on northbound I-35 outside of Salado, after distracted driving caused a pileup on the highway, Myers said.

“Due to somebody changing a tire or slowing down suddenly, all of a sudden it caused a chain reaction-type crash,” Myers said.

Rodriguez was pulled from a Honda Pilot carrying seven people, all of whom were injured. A 1-year-old also was pulled from the car with injuries.

Both children were life-flighted to Scott & White Hospital in Temple in critical condition.

A preliminary investigation indicated that one of the drivers may have been operating a cellphone when the incident occurred.

The accident is still under investigation, Meyers said.

“We encourage drivers, number one, to pay attention on the road, use cellphones at a minimum and leave enough space just in case there is a hazard or anything suddenly occurs in the roadway,” Meyers said.

Contact ​Brandon Janes at bjanes@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7552

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