Cameron Herald, Thur., 23 Nov 2000
"Five dead, four hospitalized following US190/SH36 crash"
By MIKE PECK
Five people are dead and four others remains hospitalized, two in critical condition, following a three-vehicle, head-on crash that occurred Thursday evening some five miles west of Cameron on US 190/SH36.
Law enforcement personnel said alcohol "might" have been a contributing factor in the crash.
Pronounced dead at the scene by Milam County Peace Justice O.C. "Chip" Dunsmoor were Joe Martinez, 19, of Buckholts, Jose Reyes, 27, of Cameron, Royal Bryant, 64, of Cleveland, Arthurine Bryant, 59, of Cleveland, and Clifford Hill, 5, of Cove Springs, said Department of Public Safety Trooper Michael Nix of Cameron.
Meanwhile, Lakeshia Chapman, 15, of Cove Springs and Terell Franks, 5, of Cleveland, remain in the Intensive Care Unit of Scott & White Memorial hospital in Temple. Both were passengers in a 1992 Lincoln driven by Royal Bryant and are listed in critical condition.
Additionally, Julio Hernandez, 21, of Cameron, a passenger in the 1996 Ford Tarus driven by Joe Martinez and Lasqueshia Hadnot, 15, of Cleveland, a passenger in the Bryant auto, remain in Scott & White Hospital. Both are listed in stable condition.
Occupants of a 2000 Ford Mustang involved in the crash were not injured. They include the driver, Sandra Love, 32, of Cove Springs and passengers Charles Bryant, 35, of Cleveland, Aeraveon Love, 3, of Cove Springs, Anthony Franks, 8, of Cleveland, and Linsey Fairchild, 17, of Cleveland.
Department of Public Safety Trooper Michael Nix said the mishap occurred at 7:15 p.m. during a period of light rain.
However, Nix noted that heavy rain swept into the area and prohibited at least one Scott & White Medivac helicopter from transporting the injured.
"They (Medivac) did land on the scene, but due to the danger associated with the weather conditions, did not transport," Nix said. "The victims were transported by Scott & White Emergency Medical Service ambulances."
Nix said the Ford Tarus driven by Martinez was headed west on US190/SH36 and the Lincoln, driven by Bryant and the Mustang, driven by Love were eastbound of US190/SH36 when the crash occurred.
"Mr. Martinez' Tarus crossed the highway center stripe and into the path of the Lincoln driven by Mr. Bryant," Nix said. "The vehicles collided left front headlight to left front headlight."
"The Mustang, driven by Ms. Love was following the Lincoln and collided with the Ford Tarus following its initial impact with the Lincoln," Nix added. "There was evidence that she his the brakes and skidded some 160 feet before hitting the Tarus."
The westbound Tarus came to rest in the middle of the eastbound lane of traffic, while the Lincoln careened off of the roadway and into a ditch on the eastbound side of the highway.
The Mustang came to a stop on the shoulder of the eastbound lane of traffic.
Nix said the Tarus and Lincoln were totaled in the crash and were towed from the accident scene. The Mustang sustained only minor damage.
Nix said none of the occupants were ejected from vehicles. However, he said the rear seat passenger in the Martinez auto and the children, rear seat passengers in the Lincoln, were not wearing seat belts.
Seat belt use in the Mustang was not known, Nix said.
Nix said occupants in the Lincoln and the Mustang were returning home after spending Thanksgiving with relatives in Killeen.
Nix also said Martinez, Hernandez and Reyes had spent Thanksgiving at Hernandez' house in Cameron. It was not known late Thursday where the three were going when the accident occurred.
Eastbound and westbound traffic along US 190/SH36 was blocked and rerouted for several hours while emergency personnel tended to the injured and cleared the roadway.
Department of Public Safety Trooper Ernest Delbosque of Cameron, Department of Public Safety Trooper Jonathan Hunter of Franklin, Milam County Sheriff Charles West, and Milam County sheriff's deputies Joe Ribar, Greg Kouba and Kelli Williams assisted Nix in his investigation.
The Scott & White Emergency Medical Service, fire department personnel from Cameron and Buckholts, and one police unit from Rogers also responded to the scene to assist.
The accident brought to 20 the number of traffic fatalities on Milam County roadways this year. Twelve of those fatalities have occurred on US190/SH36 between Cameron and Buckholts.
The Texas Department of Public Safety at Austin told The Cameron Herald that while its figures were not yet completed for 1999 and 2000, the figures this year appear to be the highest since at least 1994.
A spokesperson said Milam County had eight traffic fatalities in 1994 and in 1995. In 1996 the county saw nine traffic fatalities, seven in 1997 and 10 fatalities in 1998, the last year for which the agency has complete figures.