ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A 12-year-old Santa Fe boy drowned early Tuesday morning after his father's SUV went off of a U.S. Highway 59 bridge south of Diboll and wound up in the Neches River.
Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Esther Barger said she pronounced the boy, Chance Patterson, dead shortly after 5 a.m. Tuesday morning. Barger said Patterson would have turned 13 later this month.
Because the cause of death was obviously drowning, Barger said that she didn't order an autopsy.
Barger said that Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Rocky Thigpen told her the accident occurred at approximately 2:40 a.m. According to a DPS press release, a 2006 Hyundai driven by Thomas Allan Patterson, 62, of Santa Fe was traveling south on Highway 59 when it left the roadway and crashed into the Neches River.
Barger said the boy's 14-year-old sister, Sharon Elizabeth Patterson, was able to get their father out of the car, and both of them made it to shore safely. However, multiple attempts to save her little brother were unsuccessful.
The justice of the peace said that the girl climbed up to the roadway and flagged down a passing motorist, who took her to the Diboll Police Department. The girl and her father were taken to Lufkin's Memorial hospital for treatment.
DPS troopers diverted traffic around the crash site south of Diboll for hours Tuesday morning. The road has since reopened.
A wrecker pulled the vehicle from the Neches River sometime before 6 a.m. Texas Parks & Wildlife game wardens, Angelina County Sheriff's Office deputies, officers from the Diboll Police Department, and personnel from Lufkin Fire and EMS assisted in the investigation and the recovery of the vehicle, according to the press release.