by JEN BIUNDO
Hays County emergency workers were wrapping up the scene of a minor interstate accident early Sunday morning when a speeding motorist careened through the orange safety cones, struck a sheriff’s cruiser and smashed into a fire truck, officials say.
The Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating the accident and could not immediately release the name of the driver. Hays County officials say he was transported to an area hospital and arrested.
Buda Fire Chief Clay Huckaby said his firefighters were paged out to the scene of the initial accident on southbound IH-35 at the 219 mile marker shortly before 4 a.m.
Though the call was paged out as a rollover, it turned out to be a minor accident in which the driver had slid off the road, Huckaby said. Fire Department and Sheriff’s officials closed the outside lane of the interstate to clear the scene.
About 15 minutes later, the motorist sped through the cones and slammed into the sheriff’s patrol car, knocking it into the retaining wall. The car’s momentum pushed it into the fire truck, where it came to a rest, Huckaby said.
The sheriff’s cruiser was totaled, while the fire truck took about $35,000 in damage, Huckaby said, adding that the driver did not have insurance.
Huckaby said that the standard safety procedures for securing an accident scene worked Sunday morning to prevent injury or death to the officials on the scene. The fire department places a large fire truck between the accident scene and oncoming interstate traffic to prevent workers from being hit by careless motorists.
If the fire truck hadn’t been in place Sunday morning to stop the vehicle, a firefighter or sheriff’s deputy likely would have been killed, Huckaby said.
“When we get out on the interstate we have a set of operating guidelines for highway safety,” Huckaby said. “We followed it to a tee. The guy hit the fire truck instead of the personnel.”