Family asking for speed limit to be lowered on 259 in Central Heights after crash deaths

Published: May. 24, 2021 at 3:01 PM CDT|Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 3:02 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - A double fatality crash in Central Heights on May 17th may wind up being a tragedy that leads to fewer accidents. A family, backed by community leaders, is asking for a lower speed limit through the growing community.

Jeff Badders, a well-known Nacogdcches personal-injury lawyer, is relating to familiar circumstances in the worse way.

“I am not here as a lawyer or a litigator. I’m just here as a member of a family that lost two loved ones,” said Badders from his office. “Tragically, they were both killed while they were driving their car in an 18-wheeler crash.”

Until the paint fades, DPS investigation markers show the point of impact where the crash happened. At County Road 104, Sonya Keath and Jennifer Gibson, the mother and sister of Badders’ wife, made it that far after driving from FM 698, located across the highway.

“Which hundreds of people have to do every day,” pointed out Badders, who must cross four lanes of traffic and a turn lane each time he leaves his country road.

Taxidermist Lee Richards heard the impact and knew it what it was.

“I was in there working. And I heard the boom. I looked out the door and saw the car sliding sideways here,” said Richards, whose business is on the corner.

He immediately called 911.

“They need to slow it down,” said the business resident of more than 40 years.

Badders can’t agree more. The accident came the Monday after the family held a weekend celebration of Badders’ daughter’s wedding.

The accident is still under investigation. What leaders already contend is traffic through the growing community needs to be slowed down.

“We now have two grocery stores. We have a very much larger school. We have two truck stops with an all-night Whataburger. We believe the school zone is too narrow and the school zone needs to be lowered,” Badders said.

Hills on each side build momentum for heavy truck traffic. Badders is seeking an immediate speed change from the Texas Department of Transportation. He has sought the support of Rep. Travis Clardy and Central Heights ISD superintendent David Russell.

“Going from 70 to 60 to 55 that area is too narrow. The signs need to be moved way back. And they should not be more than 45 miles an hour,” Badders said.

TxDot responded to our inquiry stating, ‘We will begin the traffic study this week, weather permitting. If the results meet the markers for a reduction in speed, it will be presented to TxDot commissioners.”

Central Heights is non-incorporated. The Texas Department of Public Safety, the sheriff’s department, and constables patrol the area.

“What really prompted this was me talking with the troopers who have to work these crashes. And the doctors at the emergency room who helped treat my family they’re all furious,” Badders said.

Patience is required to enter 259 - more than what Badders has right now while he is waiting for a decision.

“I don’t want to be sitting here talking about another mom or some kids or school bus that’s been in a fatal accident out there.”

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