All lanes open following 20-hour cleanup of US 59 wreck

Source: DPS
Source: DPS
Source: DPS
Source: DPS
Source: DPS
Source: DPS

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - All lanes on U.S. Highway 59 just north of Lufkin are now open for motorists.

However, that wasn't the case a few hours ago.

On Monday, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers responded to a wreck in the area of U.S. 59 and FM 843 involving an 18-wheeler loaded with a hazardous chemical, an 18-wheeled chip hauler, and a school bus that killed one person and injured four others.

According to DPS, Barry Harper, 57, of Pine Bluff, Ark., was driving southbound on US 59 at 4:50 p.m. when he veered to the right and struck a school bus, driven by Elizabeth Gomez of Lufkin. Gomez had been in a private parking lot and attempting to pull onto US 59. Harper then flipped his Peterbilt truck on the side and hit a trailer parked off of the roadway before entering a ditch and coming to a rest. He was not wearing a seatbelt and died on the scene.

Gomes and her three children were treated for minor injuries at a Lufkin hospital.

East Texas News spoke to a woman whose father lives near where the accident occurred.

"It just devastated me, but I'm just glad that all the kids were safe, and I just hate to hear that there was a life lost," Darlyne Wise said.

"It smelled bad," said John Lee, who lives on FM 843. "I don't know what it was but it didn't smell good."

Lee said he heard the accident just before 5 p.m. Monday from his yard on FM 843.

"It sounded like somebody lost a load but it was a little more than that," Lee said.

Not knowing it would take all night and all of Tuesday morning to re-open the southbound lanes on Highway 59, Lee left his house.

"It was ok coming back because I was coming in the opposite direction, but I got up there and they stopped me and turned me around," Lee said. "I went back to my brothers."

Lee isn't the only one that couldn't return home Monday night.

"My niece actually left their house last night to go to the parade and they live just right up north of past the wreck scene and she didn't get to come back home, so she had to find a place to spend the night last night," Wise said. "Her husband, who works in Nacogdoches, got as far as where we're standing now and had to walk home."

Traffic was not flowing freely again until 1 p.m. Tuesday.

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