Witnesses at the scene said the driver of a tractor-trailer rig rear-ended a John Deere 8200 farm tractor in the southbound lanes, then careened off the highway hitting a power pole that was hooked up to the flashing yellow light at the Hill Corps. turn off.
The pole was knocked down and the tractor was separated from the trailer.
Rickey Allen Butler, 55, of Mission, was ejected from the tractor cab and the trailer rolled on top of him.
Ramirez said the speed limit on U.S. Highway 77 is 75 mph, but farm tractors are not allowed to travel any faster than 25 mph.
Lara Lynn Clayton, 24, of Brooklet, Ga., was driving the John Deere and was knocked out of the cab and sustained numerous injuries.
She was transported by PHI Med 3 (Petroleum Helicopter Inc.) to Corpus Christi Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital.
Susan Till of Bossier City, La., said she came up on the farm tractor and rendered aid to the woman.
Till, a registered nurse, said she has been a first responder before and was able to stabilize the woman’s head, ankle and lower leg. She also washed out the woman’s eyes and calmed her.
“She said her name was Lara,” Till said. “She was worried about the tractor.”
Both southbound lanes were closed for several hours until wreckers could remove the farm tractor and tractor-trailer rig.
While lanes were closed, southbound traffic on U.S. Highway 77 was being diverted to state Highway 239 to U.S. Highway 183 south.
Allen’s Wrecker Service was at the scene, as was the Department of Public Safety, Refugio County Sheriff’s Department, Refugio Police Department, Refugio Volunteer Fire Department and the Refugio County emergency tech personnel.
Others at the scene were Refugio County Justice of the Peace Emi Riemenschneider, AEP and Texas Highway Department personnel.