Early morning truck wreck kills one, injures two others
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

A fiery wreck involving two 18 wheelers early this morning resulted in one fatality, two other injuries and the closure of the eastbound lanes of Interstate 30 and one lane of the south service road from the Brashear exit to FM 3389.

ICY Trucking driver Timothy Maurice Howlett, 46, of Waco, died in the crash. Investigating officers said he was trapped in the cab of his truck. ACT AAA Cooper Transport driver Christian Ramirez, 23, of Grand Prairie and the passenger in his truck were both taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Public Information Trooper Jean Dark.

At least one of the men in the ACT truck complained of back pain to first responders.

DPS troopers were still at the crash scene just before noon Tuesday while fire department and ACT AAA Cooper Transport's hazardous materials team cleared the wreckage from the roadway. The condition of the debris and physical evidence left from the scene will determine whether the DPS accident reconstruction team can recreate the crash.

While it is unknown why, Dark said based on information from the scene they were able to discern that Howlett was traveling toward Dallas in the westbound lane around 4:15 this morning. He was hauling a trailer full of small pieces of cut lumber.

Howlett's truck left the westbound lanes of I-30, crossed the center median into the eastbound lanes of traffic. Act AAA driver Ramirez was traveling east hauling boxes of flooring and and buckets floor adhesive material in a double trailer when the ICY truck crossed the median. Ramirez attempted to take evasive action, but was unable to avoid the collision with the other truck, Dark said.

The impact sent the ICY truck across the eastbound lane andcrashing into theditch between eastbound I-30 and the south service road. The trailer separated from the truck and split in half, throwing wood pieces all over the road. The Act AAA truck crashed into the center median with the trailer partially in the eastbound lane.

Both trucks burst into flames, with Ramirez and his passenger escaping. Howlett was crushed beneath the cab of his mangled truck.

Emergency dispatchers received two calls at 4:13 of a motor vehicle crash in Cumby, followed at 4:22 a.m. by emergency calls from motorists reporting a head-on collision between two 18-wheelers which were on fire and explosions were heard.

Cumby, Arbala and Brinker firefighters were dispatched to the accident scene and Hopkins County's Hazardous Materials team and Fire Department were were also called into service. Campbell and Sulphur Springs firefighters were contacted also to provide additional aid.

Hopkins County Emergency Medical Services took the two men from the ACT AAA to the hospital, one complaining of back pain.

The fire-fight was hampered while officials attempted to determine the type of chemicals being hauled in the Act AAA truck. The floor solvent and pasting materials were determined to include some acetone base materials which although toxic and were contained to the interstate and medians.

Hopkins County sheriff's deputies and Cumby Police officers, assisted by Sulphur Springs Police, worked quickly to completely shut down Interstate 30 east and one lane of the south service road from the east I-30 exit in Brashear with traffic narrowed to one lane on the service road and directed behind it from the post office to FM 3389. Officers, patrol units and fire trucks, were stationed at each end of the detour area to warn motorists and oversee traffic direction in the predawn hours until Texas Department of Transportation workers could arrive with equipment to assume the task.

Heavy equipment was brought in to scoop up the hazardous materials and put them in dump trucks, which were then emptied into a plastic until Act AAA's company haz-mat team could remove it for safe disposal. The removal and clean up process was expected to take most of the day. Eastbound traffic on I-30 will continue to be detoured away from the crash scene until the clean up and investigation is complete.

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