Friday, June 21, 2024

Crash that killed two allegedly caused by distracted driving

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A fatal wreck that took place in Temple on April 27 and killed two passengers from Gatesville involved a driver that was either “distracted or inattentive,” according to a Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Texas Peace Officer’s crash report.

The two passengers who died in the crash were identified as 22-year-old Abigail Boatwright and 17-year-old Evan Boatwright by the Temple Police Department and the TxDOT crash report. They were traveling in a Ford F-150 on State Highway 36 when an oversized load fell off its trailer and onto the vehicle.

The incident occurred just after 11 a.m. at the intersection of State Highway 36 and Highway 317 in Temple.

The TxDOT crash report states that the driver of the F-150, James Jones, was traveling eastbound on State Highway 36 at an undetermined speed when it approached the rear of several vehicles that were stopped to facilitate a trailer carrying a 16-foot wide and nearly 350,000-pound load. The oversized load was driven by a Kenworth truck as well as carried by five connected flatbed trailers with “240 tires on 120 axles.”  

Dashcam footage from Kenworth shows them traveling westbound on Highway 36 at 43 miles-per-hour. The report says the truck was wider than the lane width and had to straddle both the east and westbound lanes.

A Houston Police Department motorcycle unit providing escort services was traveling ahead of the convoy and directing traffic for the oversized load.

According to the report, due to Jones being “either distracted or inattentive, he failed to see the escort pilot vehicles warning him of the approaching wide load as they passed his location.” Jones continued to disregard the warning from the Houston police motorcycle unit and failed to stop behind the other vehicles, causing him to swerve to the left and cross over into the path of the Kenworth carrying the oversized load.

The driver of the Kenworth slammed on his brakes to avoid colliding with Jones’ vehicle. Jones then pulled onto the shoulder and came to a stop, partially blocking the westbound lane, and forcing the driver of the Kenworth to veer left.

The TxDOT report says the braking action by the Kenworth caused the massive load it was pulling to “shift forward.” As the Kenworth came to an abrupt stop, “the rear chains holding the load onto the trailer snapped and the load rotated to the right, falling off the trailer and its support.”

The oversized load then landed on the Ford-150 that contained Jones and Abigail and Evan Boatwright, the report states.  

Temple Fire & Rescue teams said that it took just over four hours to safely remove Jones from the car. He was flown to the emergency room with life-threatening injuries, but is in stable condition as of April 30, per a press release by Temple police.

It is unknown what the piece of equipment was that fell onto the vehicle, Temple Fire & Rescue said.

Southern Transport LLC was the name of the company overseeing the transport of the oversized load, according to the TxDOT report.

After the crash, it took nearly two days to clear the debris from Highway 36.