Three die in Rains County collision

Point woman, 30, and two girls, 5 and 6, pronounced dead at the scene

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Aug 3, 2007 - A woman and two young girls died in a crash in Rains County Thursday after the vehicle they were in collided head-on with an 18-wheeler hauling a trailer of coal.

Toni Renee Mattern, 30, and 5-year-old Daylan Lorenze, both of Point, and 6-year-old Kayla Cook of Emory were pronounced dead at the scene at 1:45 p.m. by Rains County Justice of the Peace Don Smith.

The three were ejected from the Chevrolet TrailBlazer when it collided with the truck. The vehicle then burned up.

"It appeared they were killed instantly,” said Sgt. Hank Sibley with the Texas Department of Public Safety Office in Sulphur Springs. “It was a bad one.”

The bodies of the young girls were taken to Wilson-Orwosky Funeral Home in Emory. Mattern’s body was sent to the medical examiner’s office in Dallas for an autopsy. The truck driver Clyde Daniel Rogers, 54, of Harrah, Okla., suffered minor head injures and was taken to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital. He was said to be in good condition.

The crash occurred at 1:30 p.m. Thursday on U.S. Highway 69 west of the Emory city limits, near Rains High School. The 18-wheeler was hauling a dump trailer full of lignite coal, traveling northwest. The Chevrolet Trailblazer was headed southeast on U.S. 69.

�The Blazer, for whatever reason, swerved into the path of the 18-wheeler in a head-on collision," Sgt. Sibley said. "The impact drove the SUV back and ejected the driver and two passengers, two little girls."

The SUV came to rest on the northwest shoulder of the road and burst into flames. 

The 18-wheeler rolled across the highway, dumping the coal all over the road and spilling diesel fuel before stopping in the southeast right of way.

Emergency personnel from Emory and surrounding areas responded, including Rains County and Point fire departments, Emory police and Rains County Sheriff’s Office. DPS personnel from Emory, Sulphur Springs, Tyler, Canton and Terrell also responded.

The Hopkins County Hazardous Materials unit was called in due to the threat of the fuel spilling into a nearby creek and the potential for the coal product to ignite. The leak was contained, however, and was cleaned up by staff of Fuller’s Wrecker Service, using materials carried in their towing vehicles.

DPS commercial vehicle inspection officers, and accident reconstruction team and other troopers from Sulphur Springs and Rains County worked alongside all available law enforcement, firefighters and emergency services personnel from Emory and surrounding areas at the scene until after 7 p.m. determining what caused the crash and overseeing clean-up.

DPS Trooper Cody Sanders is the lead investigator in the case.

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