• Thu. Nov 24th, 2022

Tuesday’s fatal accident on SH 111 west of Yoakum was in line with the latest data that puts Texas at the top of the states for the highest Thanksgiving week death toll.

At 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, a 2016 Hyundai Elantra driven by 19-year-old Joel Herrera Torres of El Campo crossed the center line on the freeway about 15 miles east of Yoakum and crashed head-on into a 2021 Dodge Ram, driven by Roberto Garcia Mata Jr., 51, of Smiley, according to a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Mata suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was taken by ambulance to DeTar Hospital Navarro, Sgt. department spokesman Ruben San Miguel said Wednesday.

Herrera and his passenger Hector Javier Rios Jr., 18, of El Campo, were pronounced dead at the scene at 6:16 a.m. by Justice of the Peace Hallie Hall, he said.

When the two vehicles collided, Mata’s truck overturned and landed on its roof, facing east on the westbound, while the Elantra rolled upright into a grassy ditch, San Miguel said.

“It was probably one of the worst accidents I’ve ever seen,” San Miguel said. “This Dodge truck wrecked this car.”

A study released Nov. 14 by auto insurance savings app Jerry reported that Texas leads the states in Thanksgiving week traffic fatalities.

The study examined data collected from 2006 through 2020 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and defined Thanksgiving week as the Wednesday before the holiday through the following Monday.

Texas reported 749 traffic deaths during Thanksgiving week, 10 ahead of California. Florida was the third-highest with 621 deaths.

These three states are the most populous in the United States. The fourth-most populous state, New York, reported 251 deaths, behind North Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Houston, Dallas and San Antonio are among the top cities in the Thanksgiving traffic fatality reports. Only Los Angeles reported more.

According to the study, Saturday is the deadliest day, followed by Friday and Thanksgiving Day.

“Nearly a quarter of all people killed in traffic accidents on Thanksgiving Day over the past 15 years were between the ages of 16 and 25,” the study said. “Of all fatalities, 69% were male.”

Additionally, half of these fatal accidents occur in rural areas during Thanksgiving, and “56% involve a vehicle going off the road.”

Overall, according to the study, Thanksgiving is the deadliest holiday for American drivers, with 43% more crash victims than Christmas and 6% more than the second-deadliest weekend, Labor Day.

Tamara covers the public safety beat for the Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6597 or [email protected]