|Eight killed in Sunday wrecks on I-30
State trooper, firefighter and their sons died in second crash
|From Staff and Wire Reports|
June 14, 2004 -- Seven Hopkins County residents, including a state trooper and a member of the Grapevine Fire Department, died along with a truck driver in two separate, but related traffic accidents on Interstate 30 at the 129 and the 131 mile markers.
It began at 7:09 p.m. Sunday when a vehicle apparently blew a rear tire and rolled over on I-30 near the 129 mile post where three members of a Sulphur Springs family died.
They were identified as Delfino Bautista, 46; his wife Hortencia Bautista, 39; and an unidentified teenage girl, DPS spokesman Lt. Ben Valdez said.
Three children in the vehicle were taken to Dallas area hospitals, but their injuries are not considered life threatening, Valdez said.
The Bautista family was traveling east on I-30 when a rear tire apparently blew out sending the vehicle out of control and overturned in the center median, according to Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Ronny Glossup, who was called to the accident scene.
"It started to turn over," Glossup said. "The two females were ejected out the windshield and then it went across the median into the westbound [lanes], a couple of children were thrown out and it landed upside down in the westbound lane and the driver was still seat-belted."
The judge said the three were pronounced dead at the scene at 7:30 p.m.
Two other teens and one child were taken to Parkland and Children's Hospitals in Dallas.
Traffic was diverted from the east and westbound lanes of traffic to the service roads while emergency responders worked at the scene. The second accident which killed the Stan Avery and son Jake, Matthew Ringler and son Chance and truck driver William T. Ledford, 56, occurred at 8:39 p.m. at the 131 mile marker just east of the FM 69 exit, where westbound traffic was being diverted to the service road, according to Trooper Jean Steely in the Tyler DPS office.
With the highway still closed, a passenger car driven by off-duty DPS trooper Stanley Wayne Avery was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler at 8:39 p.m., causing a five-vehicle pile-up.
The first sheriff's officer on the scene immediately called for the ambulance service to "send all their units as soon as possible." The officer said there were either five or six vehicles involved and the wreckage was on fire.
Glossup said he was just leaving the scene of the first accident when he was called to the second accident.
"I was starting back to town and was talking to one of the troopers on the cell phone," he said. "He called me back and said I needed to come up there."
Three tractor-trailer trucks, a sport utility vehicle and a passenger car were involved in the second accident.
Avery and Ringler were driving their sons, Jake and Chance, back to Sulphur Springs from a baseball game they had played in and were waiting in the stop and go traffic near the detour when the crash happened. Ledford ran his truck tractor trailer rig into the back end of the car the Averys and Ringlers were riding in. The collision caused the 18-wheeler in front of it to collide with a sport utility vehicle just ahead of it, and the SUV to collide with another 18-wheeler ahead of it, for a five car pile up.
The truck tractor semi trailer Ledford was driving reportedly crushed Avery's vehicle, and caused it to catch on fire, according to reports. The Averys and Ringlers were believed to have been killed almost instantly while Tedford was cut from the cab of his rig, which was crushed in on him, and taken to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital, where he later died.
The force of the impact crushed the car between and under the rear of one truck and the front of the other and erupted into flames. Glossup said emergency workers were not even aware the car was there until a short time later.
"It was up under there and we didn't know for a while there was a vehicle between those two trucks," Glossup said. "It was that bad."
The judge said it was obvious the last truck, carrying a load of new cars was traveling at a high rate of speed.
"We don't know what happened, if the driver was looking off or what," he said. "This guy had to be ... why he couldn't shut down, I don't know, but you can tell, he had to be going pretty fast."
In describing the accident scene, Glossup called it unreal.
"It looked like something from a movie, it was like something we had not ever seen," the judge said. "It was just very tragic and didn't look real."
Stan Avery; his son Jack; Matthew Ringler, a 33-year-old member of the Grapevine Fire Department and his son, Chance, were pronounced dead at the scene by Judge Glossup at 9 p.m.
The truck driver, 56-year-old William Ledford, was pronounced dead at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Yvonne King at 10:45 p.m. There were other injuries, though none of them were life threatening, Valdez said.
The DPS spokesman said both crashes were under investigation.
''We know what happened here and we have the basic details,'' Valdez said. ''We just have to get all the other questions answered as well.''
Firefighters from the metroplex area filled in Monday at Hopkins County Fire and Rescue to allow the firefighters, many who were at the accident scene, time to grieve and to assist the Ringlers' family.
Texas Department of Public Safety's critical incident stress debriefing [CISD[ team was activated Sunday night, to assist the troopers involved in the accident investigation and other employees at the local office. The team is expected to continue providing services for the next few months.
"Our agency extends its hearts and sympathies to all the families of and those involved in this," State Trooper Jean Steely with Tyler Department of Public Safety said on behalf of the DPS agency as a whole.
Avery was a "Trooper II" with the highway patrol, where he worked in the commercial vehicle enforcement unit formerly known as the license and weights division. Avery was transferred from the Sulphur Springs DPS where was a highway patrol trooper to the Greenville office in September 2002.
The trooper was originally from Paris, where he worked as a Lamar County deputy for two years. He then went to work for the Tactical Narcotics Team Task Force in Hopkins County, serving as an investigator for 6 years. He joined the DPS in October of 1998, graduating from the DPS Academy in April of 1999. Avery's first duty station was in Paris DPS where he was a highway patrol trooper until September of 2000, when he transferred to Sulphur Springs. He was also noted to have attended Paris Junior College, according to Steely of Tyler and Tela Mange at the DPS public information officer in Austin.
Firefighter Matt Ringler was a member of Brinker Volunteer Fire Department, had been a part-time firefighter for Hopkins County Fire and Rescue and was a full-time firefighters for Grapevine Fire Department at the time time of his death.
Ringler was a certified firefighter with the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, driver-operator, certified intermediate instructor, certified rescue diver and was certified as an emergency medical technician with the Texas Department of Health.
Central Baptist Church, where both the Ringlers and Averys attended, is opening its doors to the community beginning at 5:30 p.m. for prayer with church staff on hand to help deal with their deaths and the grieving process.
"We'll be here as long as they need us to be," Central Baptist Children's Pastor Paul Frye said Monday morning. "We'll open at 5:30 and probably close around 10 o'clock tonight and go from there. This is primarily for the kids. They have help [from counselors] during the school year and we want them to have help now too. Adults can come too. There are a lot of kids out there asking questions and wondering."
For more information about the prayer and grief assistance offered at Central Baptist Church, call 903-85-3660.
Funeral services for Stan Avery, 37, and Jake Avery age, 11, of Sulphur Springs will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 16, at Central Baptist Church. Visitation will be held at 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 15, at West Oaks Funeral Home.
Funeral services for Matthew Lloyd Ringler, 33 and Chance Ringler, 11, will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 17, at Central Baptist Church. Visitation 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 16, at the West Oaks Funeral Home.
Trooper Stan Avery is survived by his wife and two daughters, ages 8 and 4; Ringler is survived by his wife Becky.
Services for William T. Ledford are pending with a Dallas funeral home.