DPS releases names of victims in US 69 fatal tanker wreck

Source: TxDOT
Source: TxDOT
Source: KTRE staff
Source: KTRE staff

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Two people have died after a wreck involving a fuel truck that exploded after colliding with a pickup truck on U.S. Highway 69, south of Zavalla.

Around 6:17 a.m. Friday, first responders were dispatched to the area 1.5 miles south of FM 1270, where the fuel tanker and a dually pickup collided.

Eugenio Salazar Juarez, 30, of Fort Worth was traveling northbound on US 69 when he crossed over into the southbound lane and struck 2012 peterbilt truck  driven by Robert Jones, 58, of Lufkin head-on.

Both drivers were pronounced dead on the scene at 8:50 a.m.

According to Zavalla Fire Department Incident Commander Richard Brunk, the truck was carrying crude oil. "The fire had the potential to be a lot worse than it was, but it was able to vent out of a rupture at the top of the truck," Commander Brunk said.

Crews from the City of Huntington, Zavalla, Fuller Springs responded to the scene. The Colmesneil Fire Department was also called to the scene with their 900 gallon water tanker. Getting enough water to the scene to extinguish the fire was the biggest obstacle, according to emergency personnel. Lufkin Fire was also at the scene with their HAZMAT team for precautionary reasons.

US 69 was closed for several hours while crews cleaned up the scene. It re-opened at 4 p.m.

"It had great potential to be disastrous but the fact that the tank had vented itself and losing pressure and burning off as it went," Brunk said." There was still some danger but it would have been worse if the tank had not vented its self."

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