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Driver dies after vehicle plunges into Guadalupe River

By chirst
Sept. 15, 2012 at 4:15 a.m.
Updated Sept. 16, 2012 at 4:16 a.m.

Officials transport the body of Lane Clay Herrera, 26, of Rockport, from the scene after they pulled his Chevrolet pickup out of the Guadalupe River at state Highway 35 near Tivoli.      For an unknown reason the truck exited the roadway before striking a tree and crashing into the river. After the Calhoun Fire and EMS dive team found the vehicle, a tow truck was able to pull the truck up an existing boat ramp. The body was then removed from the vehicle.

A 26-year-old Rockport man was killed Saturday afternoon when the vehicle he was driving plunged into the Guadalupe River in Calhoun County near Tivoli.

The man, Lane Clay Herrera, was heading south on state Highway 35 in a 1997 Chevrolet pickup about 1:30 p.m, said Lt. Glen Garrett of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Witnesses told authorities Herrera appeared to be distracted when he veered off the road and struck a tree by the river. The pickup then hit the water, which is about 10-feet deep at that location.

Calhoun County Sheriff's Deputy Steven Perez arrived on scene within minutes and jumped into the water to locate the vehicle, but couldn't because visibility was too low, said Calhoun County Sheriff B.B. Browning.

He also said a volunteer firefighter out of Seadrift also tried to find Herrera.

"An officer tries to do everything he can to save a life," Browning said. "Someone could have still been in there alive, and he was trying to get him."

By the time the Calhoun County Fire Department, EMS and dive team members arrived, the truck was completely submerged.

Garrett said it was difficult to hook the truck and pull it out of the river because it was tangled in underwater trees and mud. They managed to bring it up about 4:30 p.m.

Garrett said the vehicle sustained extensive damage and rescue workers had to cut the roof to get to Herrera, who was pronounced dead at the scene by Calhoun County Justice of the Peace Precinct 5 Nancy J. Pomykal.

The truck crashed in the same location on state highway 35 as David Willoughby, the Port Lavaca man who was found in his car in the Guadalupe River on July 13.

Willoughby was missing for weeks before he was found by a DPS dive team.

Browning said he does not think that area is particularly dangerous.

"If people are looking up and down at the river there, they might be distracted is the only thing I can think of," Browning said.

As of Wednesday, David Willoughby's autopsy report had not come back and the cause of death was undetermined.

The investigation into Saturday's wreck is ongoing.

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