Truck driver: 'Miracle' he's alive after 2-rig wreck in Diboll

Bradley Qualls walks away from his wrecked big rig.
Bradley Qualls walks away from his wrecked big rig.

DIBOLL, TX (KTRE) - Truck drivers are calling it a miracle, but Bradley Qualls, 47, is just thankful he escaped death.

"It's amazing," Qualls said. "It's amazing no one was really killed or hurt."

"I heard this boom and I jumped up out of bed, looked around, make sure there's nothing happening at the truck stop," truck driver Jim Malone said.

However, at 5 a.m., Malone didn't see anything where his rig was parked at the Diboll Depot gas station.

He woke up around 7 a.m. to heavy traffic on Hwy 59.

"I turned on my CB and asked what was going on with the traffic," Malone said. "They said wake up driver, it's just right there."

The wreck happened right in front of Malone. He just didn't see it because Qualls' rig landed on its side, 350 feet from the initial impact.

"It feels like it's slow motion and you really can't do anything," Qualls said. "It's like it's going and I said hold on, we're going over and then it went over and then it just stopped."

Diboll Police Officer Noe DeJesus said the Ohio truck driver, Qualls, and his wife, Dawn Qualls, were traveling southbound on U.S. 59 in Diboll at 4:45 a.m. when another 18-wheeler, driven by Carlos Palma, 54, of Houston, tried to make a u-turn out of a Chevron gas station. Qualls clipped Palma in the driver side, then lost control, flipped and ended on the rig's side.

Dawn Qualls was taken to a Lufkin hospital to be treated for lacerations to the head. She has since been released. Bradley Qualls and Palma were not injured.

A HAZMAT crew was on the scene for hours, cleaning diesel fuel off the road. Workers also had to dig up a ditch, where fuel had collected, then replace it with new dirt.

Southbound traffic was diverted to the northbound lane, with both sides bottlenecked and moving slowly.

The married couple had been traveling from Ohio to Houston in a R & L Carriers 18-wheeler, Bradley Qualls said.

R & L Carriers brought another truck to put all of the freight from the wrecked truck into it so that it can still make it to its destination."

"It is a miracle," Malone said. "His guardian angel, God, Jesus was riding with him....seeing this here doesn't scare me. It wakes you up."

DeJesus said Palma was cited for failure to yield right-of-way.

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