NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - A Garrison man died Wednesday morning after being struck by a rig just in front of his place of employment.
According to the Department of Public Safety report, Timothy Don Melton, 35, of Garrison, was driving a 2008 Jeep four-door northbound on U.S. 259 and attempted to make a left-hand turn into Log masters, at 16609 U.S. 259 North, in which he worked as a foreman.
His co-worker and a passenger in the car, Raymond Westbrook, 47, is in stable condition. He's being treated for internal injuries at a hospital intensive care unit.
Leon Wood Jr., of Overton, was driving a 2007 Kenworth tractor-trailer rig towing two flatbed trailers and hit Melton's vehicle from behind. He received non life-threatening injuries. He could be facing manslaughter charges.
Melton was pronounced dead on the scene at 11:58 a.m. He was wearing a seatbelt.
This kind of accident is becoming too common for Herman Gibson, co-owner of Log-Masters. He wonders each day how long it will be before another employee, customer or vendor gets killed coming to his business.
Standing on the side of the road he points to the red paint marking the spot where the impact occurred. " This is the second fatality we've had, right here, this spot, plus injuries," said Gibson. After a thoughtful pause he said, "Something got to be done."
Gibson and his wife Nancy, along with neighbors, have petitioned the state for the answer.
"The basic problem is real simple. There's no turn lane," said Gibson.
According to the Gibsons, from the Cushing Y to the Oklahoma state line, it's the only six mile stretch of road on 259 without a turn lane or median.
"And these 18 wheelers run up and down this road like there's no tomorrow," said Gibson.
Twice the Gibsons have lost people close to them.
"In 2005 the 18 wheeler rear ended one of our employees coming to work and killed his son. He was a 6 year old boy."
According to property owners, after the 2005 fatality the state did come in and install a warning sign to let motorists know of truck traffic in the vicinity. They say it does little in slowing down traffic and protecting those turning off the highway.
Yesterday, another employee of Gibson's was killed. He was a widow. His two young children, one with leukemia, are without parents. " What happens to them? Who knows," said Gibson.
A trooper investigating the accident agree the state should build a turn lane along that stretch of road. Troopers say the trucker's speed contributed to the accident, but they also pointed out that the trucker had another truck in front of him and two others to the right of him. The traffic blocked his view of the turning vehicle and blocked his ability to swerve around it.
Gibson said, " These 18 wheelers don't need to be in the left lane. They should be near the shoulder driving a sensible speed."
From their office the Gibsons quietly watch a team of insurance investigators take road measurements to defend a likely lawsuit. The couple wonders who will defend the lives that will be lost if something isn't done soon.
"It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when it will happen again," said Gibson. "What's the quota for deaths in order to get a turn lane."