An accident just after 11:30am Saturday took two lives and sent another person to Hermann Hospital by a Life Flight Helicopter.
According to DPS Trooper Schraub who is with the Texas Department of Public Safety San Jacinto County Office, a 1991 GMC 18-wheeler loaded with two large logging tractors and was southbound on US 59 just south of Shepherd. Just prior to Shepherd there are warning signs telling drivers to use an alternate route if their load is to tall. Evidently the driver Hollis Taylor, age 58 of Silsby, Texas didn’t realize his load was to tall. As he went under railroad trestle that crosses US 59 at an angle his load struck the trestle. Upon striking it the front tractor was pushed off the side of the trailer and onto a 2009 Toyota driven by Harry Wilkes age 68 of Brazoria. Wilkes was critically injured and flown to Hermann Hospital in Houston by Life Flight.
Wilkes passenger Richard Hodges, age 57, also of Brazoria was pronounced dead on the scene.
A 2007 Freightliner, driven by William Buckles of Vidalia, Louisiana was uninjured in the crash was hauling a trailer loaded with crude oil was also in the left lane and unable to stop struck the Toyota in the rear and then striking the tractor. The collision with the tractor not just pushed it into the GMC driven by Taylor and killing him.The tank full of crude oil ruptured spilling over fifty barrels onto the road, into storm drains and covering the other vehicles.
Shepherd Fire Department arrived on the scene and contacted Cleveland and Bear Creek Fire Departments for additional help. With crude oil on the ground and in the storm drains, emergency vehicles responding and environmental equipment including a member of TCEQ it was determined to close US59 completely and reroute traffic over the loop. Traffic southbound was turned onto the loop by San Jacinto County Deputies. Traffic northbound was diverted to the loop also by Deputies with the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office and Precinct 2 Constable Tom Yates. Southbound traffic at one point was said to be backed up to Livingston. However, the northbound traffic had very little slowdown.
All three Fire Departments spent over an hour cutting the deceased victims out of the vehicles.
An inspector with Union Pacific Railroad remained at the scene holding back train trasffic as the accident cleared. The railroad already working with rerouting train traffic through Shepherd, Cleveland and Splendora as work was taking place on the east-west track going through Huffman and Dayton. That track carried the train which struck and killed the driver of an 18 wheeler who pulled up on the tracks on CR 622 on Wednesday.
All traffic was back flowing normal again just before 8pm when the scene finally cleared.
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