According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), one teenage boy died and at least five other individuals were seriously injured in a seven-car pile-up south of Benton, TX. The accident occurred as traffic backed up due to reduced speeds in a work zone.
Details of the Crash
Authorities report that they were called to the scene of an accident on northbound Interstate 35 near Shanklin Road on Tuesday, July 20th. Just before 10 a.m., seven vehicles were involved in a chain-reaction crash in a construction zone.
According to DPS Sgt. Bryan Washko, reduced speeds in the work zone lead to traffic backing-up, something which may have contributed to the severity of the crash. Investigators don’t yet know what triggered the event.
Reportedly, two medical helicopters and at least five ambulances were needed on the scene. Currently, there is suspicion that the driver who initiated the incident was distracted at the time.
The number of individuals involved in the crash is somewhat unclear at this time. While only one person, a 13-year-old Florida boy, was reported deceased, at least five others suffered “incapacitating injuries.” At least six others were involved in the crash but uninjured. One of the victims was airlifted to a nearby hospital, while the others reportedly rode by ambulance.
At least one of the injured victims was under the age of 17. According to news reports, first responders performed CPR on at least four people at the scene of the crash, some of whom were identified as children.
Following the accident, all northbound lanes of I-35 were closed in the area while an investigation and clean-up of the scene were underway. The road was reopened by late that afternoon.
Work Zone Safety Tips
Over the last decade, work zone accidents have roughly doubled in the state of Texas. In 2010, Texas saw just around 13,000 work zone crashes. By 2019, that number had reached over 26,000. Last year, that number fell to 22,250, but there’s reason to suspect that this drop was caused at least in part by the pandemic.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there are currently over 9,000 construction projects currently underway or soon to begin on Texas roads, at least a thousand more than were reported at the peak of the pandemic. This means that drivers are more likely to encounter a work zone on their trips this year compared to 2020.
With that in mind, Texas drivers must drive responsibly in work zones. These projects are a key part of maintaining our infrastructure, and we should show the respect we feel for the jobs construction workers do by driving with caution when we come across their job sites.
To make sure that you’re being as responsible as you can when driving through a work zone, follow our tips below. To help keep roadway construction workers safe, download and share our guide with your friends and family, too.