Two construction workers killed Saturday on FM 1567

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

May 19, 2008 - Two construction workers were killed and two others injured Saturday on FM 1567 after being run over by a pickup. The driver of the hit and run vehicle was arrested a short while later on a county road by troopers.

John Steven Williams, 58, of Sulphur Springs was driving a 2007 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup was eastbound on FM 1567 where a construction crew was working in the eastbound lane. Williams reportedly drove around flagmen and collided with a cement truck driven by Curtis Nelms of Quitman. Williams then backed up and around the truck, striking four pedestrians. He continued east, striking a trailer being towed on a 1994 Chevrolet pickup driven by Jeffrey Moody of Quitman. Williams then again struck two of the pedestrians he had already run over, before leaving the construction scene, according to Texas Department of Public Safety reports by Trooper Bill Reese.

Surviving members of the crew said the driver, who was later identified as Williams, after striking the men continued down the road to State Highway 19, despite significant damage to the truck -- pieces of the pickup littered the road, according to reports from the scene.

Dispatched at 3 p.m. Saturday to the scene were Hopkins County and Miller Grove firefighters, three ambulance crews from Hopkins County Emergency Medical Services, troopers, the sheriff and several deputies. Arbala firefighters were later called to assist with traffic. A caller told dispatchers when he reporting the crash that four construction workers had been hit and EMS was needed.

Officials, upon arrival, reported two men dead in the road, a third seriously injured in a ditch and a fourth injured nearby. Deputies and other troopers began searching for the hit and run driver, while EMS and firefighters treated the two injured men, troopers investigated the crash, and the sheriff and an investigator helped direct traffic while other deputies and troopers began searching for the hit and run driver.

Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace pronounced Bryan Keith Howell, 46, of Brady and Charles Glenn Skaggs, 41, of Sulphur Springs dead at the scene at 3 p.m.

Law enforcement and firefighters temporarily shut down SH 19 so that a medical helicopter could be landed at the scene. James Edward Mitchell, 31, of Sulphur Springs was flown to East Texas Medical Center for suspected internal injuries. Mitchell reportedly was alert and talking to officers, but was thought to have internal injuries. Travis Wade Moody, 19, of Quitman was taken by ambulance to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital for what were thought to be non-life threatening injuries.

Williams continued fleeing down SH 19 then onto county roads before being apprehended by deputies and troopers at 3:40 p.m. Saturday on County Road 1165 at County Road 1166. Troopers Bill Reese and Trent Price charged Williams with six offenses, two criminal negligent homicide charges and four failure to stop and render aid charges. All six charges are state jail felony offenses. Williams remained in the county jail Monday in lieu of $5,000 bond per charge.

Williams, according to previous reports to deputies by his family, is legally blind and restricted from driving. He was reported to sheriff's deputies by a family member Friday for driving while legally blind. Deputies Friday checked the area weren't able to locate either Williams or the truck, according to sheriff's reports.

He is also known to sheriff's deputies for involvement in numerous disturbances with family members, including siblings and his mother, earlier this year. In recent months, he had been taken into protective custody to receive medical treatment for unstable behavior. He has since been released and was allowed to go home.

Funeral services for Charles Skaggs will be Tuesday at 2 p.m. in Murray-Orwosky Funeral Home Chapel. Interment will follow at Greenview Cemetery. Visitation is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight at the funeral home.

Visitation for Bryan Keith Howell, reportedly the owner of B & D Construction, is from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. tonight at Heritage Funeral Home in Brady. Services will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday in First Baptist Church in Brady.

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