Calhoun Chemical plant

Calhoun Chemical plant

A Victoria resident employed at the Calhoun Chemical plant was killed Friday morning just outside his place of work after crashing into a pickup driven by his neighbor.

Michael Kelly Burke Jr., 35, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash by Calhoun County Justice of the Peace Wesley Hunt, said Sgt. Ruben San Miguel, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. Burke had just ended his shift and was leaving work, he said.

A little after 5:20 a.m., Burke failed to yield the right of way as he exited the plant onto SH 185, causing a 2014 GMC Sierra to crash into the driver’s side door of his 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier, San Miguel said.

Victoria resident Rigoberto Genaro Villarreal, the 32-year-old driver of the GMC Sierra, was severely injured and taken to DeTar Hospital Navarro, where he was then flown by helicopter to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

The initial impact caused Burke’s Cavalier to travel across the highway and enter a ditch, San Miguel said. Villarreal’s GMC Sierra came to rest in the center of the highway.

According to driver’s license records, Villarreal and Burke lived just a few houses away from one another on Londonderry Drive in Victoria.

Neither driver was wearing a seat belt, said San Miguel, adding the speed limit on that stretch of the highway is 70 mph. No other vehicles or occupants were involved, he said.

Weather conditions at the time of the crash, San Miguel said, were dry and clear. The crash remains under investigation.

Jon Wilcox reports on courts for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached jwilcox@vicad.com or 361-580-6515.

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Jon covers crime, public safety and the courts at the Victoria Advocate. Born in Huntsville, Ala., he grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism at Texas State University.

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