Man on way for hurricane relief looking for answers after damaging tires on Lufkin loop

Source: Arthur Barnett
Source: Arthur Barnett
Arthur Barnett and his son hauled this side-by-side to Port Arthur to assist in hurricane relief.
Arthur Barnett and his son hauled this side-by-side to Port Arthur to assist in hurricane relief.

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Carthage man is trying to figure out which method to use in repairing his pickup after it suffered damage when he drove on the Lufkin east loop on Aug. 31.

Arthur Barnett was on his way from Carthage to Houston to provide aid to hurricane victims when he got stuck in Lufkin around 10:30 a.m. Barnett said he was pulling a trailer hauling a side-by-side. He was driving his son and daughter-in-law with him.

"My wildest dreams couldn't figure it out," Barnett said. "Everyone kept slowing down until they couldn't move anymore. It was like a horror movie."

Barnett said he pulled his 2016 GMC truck over near the exit to US 59 and found all four of his tires completely caked up with tar and gravel.

Barnett and his family worked to scrape off what they could.

"We then slowly crept out to where there wasn't a bunch of vehicles," Barnett said. "We tried to clean the tires as best as we could. Then we drove about 20 miles an hour for about 10 miles until we felt like we were able to drive the vehicle."

Barnett said they then took the truck to Houston and Port Arthur to help a rescue group.

"That was a big mistake," he said. "It kind of just jacked up that new truck. It was a rough ride. All of the tires never balanced again."

Barnett is now trying to determine his next course of action. He thought about filing under his insurance, but he faces a large deductible.

"I've cleaned the truck up real good," he said. "I found two rock chips. So taking care of that and replacing the tires might fix it. It won't drive worth a flip now. I just go all over the road and it shakes."

So Barnett waits for either TxDOT or Clark Construction to reimburse him, though he's been too busy to file a claim, something he knows he needs to get to.

"I know it's not their fault, but I don't know why it's my fault," he said. "I just don't know which way to go, the forms are still sitting on my desk."

According to an email KTRE obtained as part of an open records request, TxDOT sent anyone who filed a complaint a denial letter, citing state laws.

The same email stated the insurance company for Clark Construction, the company contracted by TxDOT to seal the loop, would likely deny all claims, citing it as an Act of God.

Officials with Clark Construction have not responded to emails seeking comment.

Editor's note: The preceding story is one in a series regarding the Lufkin loop incident on Aug. 31. Related stories can be found on this page.

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