By Sean Batura
Kerrville Daily Times, Texas
PASADENA, Texas — Two off-duty Pasadena police officers were traveling through the Hill Country Friday night on their way home from a hunting trip when one was killed and the other was severely injured in a crash involving an 18-wheeler.
Larry Candelari, 49, a Baytown resident and police officer with Pasadena, who died on scene, and fellow officer Michael Huffman, 49, were attempting to help victims of a prior crash on Interstate 10 when a semi-truck collided with the parked vehicles.
Huffman was flown to University Hospital in San Antonio, where he was in critical condition as of Saturday afternoon, and at least four other people reportedly also were injured as a result of both crashes.
Between 9:30 and 10 p.m. Friday, a man driving a gold Silverado pickup east on Interstate 10 struck the back of a U-Haul trailer pulled by a blue Honda Fit car carrying three people. The two vehicles swerved and stopped in the grass to the right of the road about a quarter mile east of the Reservation Road exit. The U-Haul trailer came to rest in the inside lane.
Several people in as many as three vehicles stopped to help the motorists, including the two officers in a white Silverado pickup pulling an ATV on a trailer. An elderly man and woman in a Chevrolet Impala and a man driving a black pickup also stopped to help.
The white truck and the Impala were parked in the right shoulder of a bridge just east of the crashed vehicles, while the black pickup was parked in the grass near the gold truck that was involved in the first crash.
As drivers of several of the vehicles attempted to help the first crash victims, a second crash soon occurred.
"The 18-wheeler comes barreling down the road and doesn't hit the brakes until he hits vehicles," said Andy Lewis, who drove the black pickup.
Lewis indicated most or all three vehicles whose drivers attempted to render aid had their hazard lights on. The driver of the semi, who declined to identify himself, said he tried to stop as fast as he could. Initially, he went from the right to the left lane after he saw debris on the road and vehicles parked to the right with their hazard lights on.
The semi driver said the U-Haul trailer seemed to emerge suddenly from the darkness, and he swerved right to avoid going off the bridge. The semi driver said he clipped the U-Haul trailer and might have had enough room to pass it safely had there not been vehicles parked on the bridge.
The semi crushed the Impala against the bridge's guardrail, trapping an elderly man and woman in the car. The semi then struck the white pickup and its trailer and stopped just beyond the Impala.
First responders used hydraulic rescue tools to free the man from the car, and Lewis said he pulled the woman out of the Impala when he arrived. The man and woman were flown to University Hospital in San Antonio with life threatening injuries, according to a law enforcement officer on scene.
The two Pasadena officers were said to have been standing on the bridge just before the second crash. The man in the Fit was flown to University Hospital with possible life threatening injuries, and the two women in the car declined treatment by EMS on scene. Also inside the Fit were at least three dogs that seemed uninjured. The man suspected of hitting the car and its trailer was taken by ambulance to Peterson Regional Medical Center.
The names and conditions of those injured other than the two Pasadena officers were unknown as of Sunday afternoon.
A portion of Interstate 10 east was shut down for hours as law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel from Kerr and Gillespie counties and state troopers worked the scene.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2013 the Kerrville Daily Times