Communities work together to aid, clean up Goliad wreck
BY CAROLINA ASTRAIN - CASTRAIN@VICAD.COM
July 23, 2012 at 2:23 a.m.
Updated July 24, 2012 at 2:24 a.m.
A loud ring sounded through the Goliad County Sheriff's Department Sunday evening.
The 911 call set into motion emergency agencies trained to respond to wrecks, deaths and devastation.
In this case, the emergency was a 2000 Ford F-250 extended-cab pickup truck packed with 23 undocumented immigrants had crashed into a tree on U.S. Highway 59.
The one-vehicle wreck initially resulted in 11 deaths and 12 injuries. By Monday afternoon, the death count had escalated to 14 with nine injuries after three of the injured died in area hospitals.
Twenty-four hours after the wreck, the victims' names have not been released.
But what is known is emergency workers from many communities came together to help those in the wreck and to clean up the wreckage.
The communities included Schroeder, Ander-Weser, Beeville, Goliad, Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Houston.
The Texas Department of Public Safety conducted the investigation, while firefighters and deputies worked to get people out of the truck and the surrounding area.
The Goliad County Sheriff's Department deputies shut down the highway to contain the scene.
Deputies redirected traffic to Farm-to-Market roads 883 and 1351.
Sheriff's Capt. Tom Copeland said his team also worked to secure a landing space for helicopters to transport the injured to nearby hospitals.
"They set up a landing site for helicopters on either side of the scene so we could get air flights in and out." The highway re-opened a little after midnight, he said.
The Goliad Volunteer Fire Department left for the scene after receiving a call from the sheriff's office.
Fire Chief Alonzo Morales Jr. said he had never seen an accident like Sunday night's in his 32 years as a firefighter.
"You, as a responder, have to maintain a certain level of calmness," Morales said. "We responded to it and we are ready to prepare for the next one."
Morales said he had 25 firefighters on the scene. They also received additional assistance from nearby volunteer fire departments in Ander-Weser and Schroeder.
"In cases such as last night, requesting assistance from our neighboring counties is most effective," Goliad County EMS Administrator Peggy Fonseca said.
The EMS sent two ambulances and four medics to the scene.
The injured were taken to DeTar Hospital Navarro in Victoria and other hospitals in Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Beeville.
Judith Barefield, director of marketing for the DeTar Healthcare System, said as a level 3 trauma center, DeTar does its best to prepare for situations like these.
"You have codes and you implement your codes as needed," Barefield said. "This is when all that training comes into play."
As of Monday afternoon, Barefield said a man, the one patient admitted to the hospital from the wreck, remained in critical condition.
"It was just a tragic accident," Barefield said.