Victoria County averages 13 traffic fatalities a year during past decade

Jan. 25, 2014 at 10:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 25, 2014 at 7:26 p.m.

Donna Escalante Walentovic knows she is lucky to be alive.

A tractor-trailer carrying crude oil collided with her Kia Soul on Sept. 21, 2012, on Farm-to-Market Road 1432, sending Walentovic on a journey through hospitals and therapies and changing her life forever.

"I had a broken back, seven broken ribs, shattered pelvis, collapsed lung, broken hip and a broken hand.

"I have lots of metal in my body - 18 screws with a plate - and a peek cage. I died, and they brought me back."

The driver of the 2007 Freightliner was issued a citation for failure to yield the right of way, and after a year of negotiations, Schneider National, the trucking company, settled out of court with Walentovic.

Walentovic - who says tractor-trailer drivers are "bullies" - is fortunate because the Texas fatality crash statistics are grim.

In 2012, one person was killed every two hours and 35 minutes on Texas roads, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

At least one person has died in a traffic crash on Texas roads every day since Nov. 7, 2000, said TxDOT spokesman Mark Cross.

"Having at least one person killed on a Texas road every single day for 13 years is a sobering reminder that we must drive carefully and do everything in our power to stay focused behind the wheel," John Barton, TxDOT deputy executive director, said in a November 2013 news release.

"These people are our spouses, children, friends and neighbors, and losing them to traffic deaths has a profound and permanent impact on their families," Barton said. "This staggering number of fatalities needs to stop increasing every 24 hours, and taking personal responsibility for our driving habits is the first step."

In 2012 - the last year complete and analyzed statistics are available - the death toll of 3,399 was an increase of 10.82 percent from the 3,067 deaths recorded in 2011, according to TxDOT.

In the Crossroads, fatality crash statistics have remained fairly flat during the past 10 years.

Between 2004 and 2013, 130 people died in wrecks in Victoria County, an average of 13 each year, which is the exact number who died in 2013, according to statistics provided by TxDOT.Three area counties saw 11 people perish on their roads in 2013 - Gonzales, Karnes and Wharton.

In DeWitt County, nine people died in seven wrecks in 2013, the most since eight perished in 2004 and five more than the number of deaths in 2012.

Helena Wright, TxDOT spokeswoman, said analyzing factors for crashes is a lengthy process.

"When annual reports are published, that is just a snapshot of the data at a particular time for reporting purposes," Wright said.

"TxDOT has not yet performed any analysis on the 2013 data since it is not yet complete, and as such, we cannot provide data on any trends or patterns," Wright said.

Complete statistics for calendar year 2013 will not be published until June.

Walentovic was one of 230,506 people injured in crashes in Texas in 2012.

Almost a year and a half after her crash, she is still seeing doctors.

"I have been through so much. I still see doctors out of Corpus Christi and my family doctor. I have been declared disabled and cannot work anymore," she said. "I am a nurse and cannot nurse anymore. It's hard.

"Yes, I did get a nice settlement, but no amount of money can bring back the old Donna."



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