Two dead in 150 vehicle pile-up in Texas

Nearly 150 vehicles were involved in the Thanksgiving morning pile-up on I-10 near Beaumont blamed on extremely dense fog

November 22, 2012 8:18:23 PM PST
Two people are dead and dozens are injured after a nearly 150-vehicle pileup that forced the closure of Interstate 10 in both directions near Beaumont.

The collision happened around 8am Thursday on I-10 near Beaumont, about 80 miles east of Houston.

"It was like a tornado coming," Juanita Hurst told us. "Bam! You could hear it for miles, and even trucks going on the neutral ground out here hitting cars."

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office reports two people have been killed in the collisions that involved about 150 cars and trucks crashed in extremely dense fog. Authorities say between 80 and 120 injured victims were taken to area hospitals.

The impact of these crashes left cars crushed and SUVs smothered under jack-knifed semis. It left traffic backed up for miles.

KTRK spoke with Tina Butler about the frightening moments she endured as cars were crashing around her family.

"There were three cars in front of me and I saw it about to happen, and sure enough, the first car that stopped, the second car tried to avoid hitting it, but just tagged it on the bumper," Butler said. "And then the next car tagged the other bumper, and then I literally was able to stop without hitting anyone. But sat there with tht panic of who might hit me."

Elsa Valdez and her family were stuck on the highway for three hours.

"Everybody just stopped, no movement, people getting out of their cars," Valdez said. "It feels like n evacuation. That's what it feels like."

The identities of the deceased victims are not being released at this time. However, DPS says they are a Hispanic man and Hispanic woman from Pearland, traveling in the same car. Both died at the scene when their vehicle was rear-ended by one of the many big rigs involved in the accidents.

Their bodies were found several hours after an initial search, trapped in a Suburban.

"That Suburban wasn't even visible underneath," JCSO Dep. Rod Carroll said. "There was another vehicle in front of it, and we thought that it was part of the other vehicle. That shows you how horrific that accident was."

This was not the Thanksgiving those traveling through this area were expecting, but it's one that's now putting the meaning of the holiday in a different perspective for many.

"This is a good Thanksgiving for me," Hurst said. "That my life was spared, and my children didn't get hurt, and everyone else family. I just pray and thank God."

State troopers tell us the eastbound lanes in the Hamshire area will be closed until late into the night, giving crews a chance to clean up the area. Drivers are advised to avoid the area. Westbound lanes have reopened. If you have to head east, DPS recommends you take Highway 73 in Winnie.

Spirit of Thanksgiving

A heartwarming story coming out of the tragic crash is that of five-year-old Damien Ortiz and his mother.

They were heading from Dickison to Louisiana to surprise her boyfriend with a turkey dinner when they were involved in the pileup.

Damien asked his mom if they could use their turkey to make sandwiches for the other crash victims, and that's what they did.

Both of them suffered minor injuries and were checked out at a hospital. We got a call Thursday evening from the boy's mom who said they are now resting in Louisiana with loved ones. They expect to return home Friday.

Damien and his mom are also asking people to look for his puppy, Bo. Bo was thrown out of their SUV during the impact and they can't find the pup.