Two separate one-vehicle accidents just miles and minutes apart sent three people to Christus Spohn Hospital Beeville. None of the three were seriously injured, according to lawmen working the scenes.
The first accident occurred at about 4:45 p.m. just south of Pettus when 21-year-old Joseph Martinez of Sandia went to sleep at the wheel, authorities reported.
Highway Patrol Trooper Santiago “Jimmy” Montez said Martinez was northbound and coming into Pettus when he woke up to see his late-model Ford pickup drifting east off the roadway.
His attempt to regain control of the vehicle was hampered by caliche gravel on the pavement and he ended up careening across the highway where the truck hit soft dirt in the bar ditch on the west side and flipped, sideways, onto its top, Trooper Montez reported.
A 55-mile-an-hour speed limit sign was knocked over by the truck and ended up partially under the hood of the overturned pickup.
He and his passenger, 17-year-old Tiffany Mann of Beeville, were both wearing their seat belts so they were not seriously injured.
They were loaded into an ambulance from the AngelCare Ambulance Service so they could be taken to the emergency room and checked for injuries.
“Click It or Ticket is this month,” Montez said. “Hopefully people will learn from this.”
The rollover accident could have left the people in the pickup seriously hurt of killed, he said.
The second accident occurred minutes later near Normanna not seconds after Bee County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Daniels had passed the victim’s 2006 Pontiac hatchback on the way to the accident at Pettus.
Jessica Wilhelm Lopez, 29, of Kingsville had just driven back onto the roadway after Daniels passed her when the front left tire on her northbound vehicle apparently blew.
She veered off onto the shoulder on the east side of the highway and her vehicle started to swerve.
Lopez ended up in the bar ditch on the east side of the highway but she was unable to gain control of the vehicle.
The hatchback whipped to the left, carrying her westward across the highway. But before she ended up on the bar ditch on the west side of the highway the vehicle whipped back to the east, ended up in the bar ditch, spun around and she hit a road sign, knocking it over before she finally came to a stop. Daniels and a firetruck that had been at the scene of the Pettus accident raced south to control traffic and treat the injured driver until Trooper Montez could get there to investigate the accident.
An EMT from Angel Care Ambulance Service arrived at the scene and Lopez was treated for what probably was a broken left arm. She, also, was taken to the emergency room in Beeville.
Lopez said the tires on her vehicle were new when the one apparently blew.
She, also, was wearing her seat belt.