Highway Patrol troopers and deputy sheriffs were wiping away tears as they went about directing traffic, taking photos at the crash site and taking measurements.
Sitting behind the wheel of a 2005 Lincoln Navigator was the body of 23-year-old Selina Constante Clevenger, the wife of Bee County Deputy Sheriff Taylor Clevenger. She was someone they all knew.
In a nearby ambulance, the victim’s father, 47-year-old Gilbert Constante of Grand Prairie, was dying. By the time the HALO-Flight helicopter arrived, Justice of the Peace Joe Lyvers had been told that he, too, had died.
According to a report filed by Highway Patrol Trooper Marvin Baker, the accident happened at 9:10 a.m. just south of Skidmore.
Clevenger was driving east on State Highway 359 and her father was beside her in the front seat when she drove up to the intersection at U.S. 181.
Troopers said she pulled out onto U.S. Highway 181, right into the path of a southbound, 2013 Peterbilt truck pulling a trailer and a large piece of ditch-digging equipment. The truck, driven by Alejandro Garcia of Sinton, struck the SUV’s driver’s side door.
The report said Clevenger was wearing a seat belt. Her father was not.
The SUV continued on across Highway 181 and overturned onto a grassy area just east of the shoulder.
Constante was taken out of the vehicle and placed in an ambulance as troopers at the scene called for the HALO-Flight helicopter.
The aircraft landed on the Highway 181 roadway, but paramedics were informed as they arrived that it was too late.
Rescue personnel at the wreck site were visibly shaken when they learned who had been killed.
Sheriff Carlos Carrizales Jr. said later that the news had deeply affected local officers.
“It’s been a tremendous blow to our Bee County Sheriff’s Office family,” Carrizales said. “We ask the community to keep us in their prayers.”
Chief Deputy Alden Southmayd said the accident had an even more dramatic impact on two of the emergency medical personnel who arrived at the scene.
“Taylor’s parents were the first responders,” he said. They arrived in an emergency vehicle dispatched from Papalote and were among the first rescue workers there.
The sheriff said Clevenger has been one of his deputies for about two years. He and his wife have two small children.
“You know, you see these things all the time. And it’s not that you are never affected by it,” Carrizales said. But a tragedy of that magnitude hits harder when the victim is a friend or family member or a co-worker.
“You just never know,” Carrizales said.
The viewing for Mrs. Clevenger has been scheduled for 6-9 p.m. Friday at Galloway, and Sons Funeral Home and the funeral itself will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Joseph’s Cemetery.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.