Two die in vehicle wrecks
Tractor-trailer involved in each one
Mar 15, 2009 | 3530 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy Photo / Trooper Walt Smith<br>
KIRK LANKFORD of Pittsburg died Wednesday morning when his 2005 Nissan Exterra collided with a Mack truck. The accident occurred in Pritchett, near the intersection with FM 1404.
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There were two fatal wrecks in Upshur County this week, both involving a car colliding head-on with a large tractor-trailer rig. In both cases, the smaller vehicle was northbound, and the larger vehicle was southbound.

A 28-year-old Pittsburg man was killed Wednesday morning in a 2-vehicle wreck in Pritchett. Another man, Stephen Kraker, was killed in the Gladewater area wreck.

According to the Department of Public Safety report, Kirk Lankford was northbound on Hwy. 155 in a 2005 Nissan Exterra when he collided with a southbound 2005 Mack truck with flatbed trailed driven by Michael Howard of Omaha. The truck is owned by Howard H.H. and Sons of Daingerfield.

The accident occurred in front of Etta’s Cafe, 5.6 miles from Gilmer city limits.

DPS Trooper Walt Smith, who investigated, said that two witnesses who were following Lankford reported that he was weaving and crossed the center line.

“I believe it was a near head-on collision,” Smith said.

Howard was not injured.

He said Lankford’s wife said that he was a postal worker at the U.S. Postal Service distribution center at Tyler. He got off work at 9:30 a.m. and was headed home. The accident occurred at 10:20 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Upshur County Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Rhonda Welch at 10:45 a.m.

“(Lankford) is believed to have fallen asleep,” Smith said.

The body was sent to East Texas Forensic Center at Tyler for autopsy, and the investigation is continuing, Smith said.

Seat belts were worn, and Lankford’s air bag deployed.

Gladewater Police responded to the other fatal wreck, which occurred in the 2100 block of U.S. 271. Also responding were the Gladewater Fire Department and EMS. A hazard team was called to clean up spilled engine oil.

When authories arrived, they found an SUV which had been northbound was fully engulfed in flames.

It had veered into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with a 22-wheeler owned by Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.

The SUV driver was believed to have been killed on impact. The driver of the tractor trailer was treated at the scene.
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