The Texas Department of Public Safety has identified factors that contributed to a 3-vehicle wreck on U.S. 59 near Telferner, which left five people dead and seven injured in late July.

A passenger van carrying 10 relatives from Brownsville was northbound on U.S. 59 in the left lane at the intersection with U.S. 59 Business on July 20 when it struck a semi-trailer that was northbound in the outside lane. The collision caused the driver of the van to lose control, cross over a grassy median and strike a southbound white Ford F-250 head-on.

Sgt. Ruben San Miguel, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the investigation revealed that the driver of the van failed to adhere to two signs on U.S. 59 North that alert drivers in the left lane to merge right with northbound U.S. 59 Business, and took faulty evasive action.

Some drivers recently expressed safety concerns about the U.S. 59 North and northbound U.S. 59 Business merge, including one woman who thought there should be a more noticeable alert than the current signs, especially for drivers who are not familiar with the route.

Faulty evasive action is defined by the Texas Department of Transportation as a driver either taking no evasive action when it is reasonable to assume they should have and that action could have prevented the collision or in an effort to avoid the collision, the driver takes improper evasive action that contributes to the crash.

San Miguel said troopers are hoping the van’s data recorder will reveal more information. The department received a warrant to search the event data recorder, which he said is common for fatal crash investigations.

Many vehicles come with event data recorders, or EDRs, which are sometimes referred to as “black boxes.” The devices are computers that record and store data in the seconds prior, during and immediately after a crash.

Some troopers are trained and certified in downloading and analyzing that data, San Miguel said. Findings can include precise engine rpm, steering, length and severity of a crash and brake response details.

“The data is in the process of being analyzed to determine more significant or precise information,” San Miguel said.

Kali Venable is a public safety reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6558 or at

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Investigative & Environmental Reporter

"I am a Houston native and 5th generation Texan, with a degree in journalism and minor in creative writing from the University of Texas at Austin. I care deeply about public interests and the community I serve.”

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