The driver of a tractor trailer involved in an accident earlier today has been arrested. Thirty-eight Duane Robert Willette has been charged with reckless driving after his involvement in a serious accident along Loop 20 and Saunders. Traffic along that intersection came to a standstill during the noontime on Friday. Valerie Gonzalez was on site and has the report.
According to police, it all began when a tractor trailer smashed into two vehicles, one of them a city vehicle. Skid marks, strewn debris, shattered glass, and mangled cars tell the tragic story. It's one that two Webb County deputies had the misfortune of witnessing. Investigator Joe Baeza, Public Information Officer for the Laredo Police Department, says, "Eyewitnesses saw an 18 wheeler that was coming westbound into Laredo from Highway 59 into Saunders under [the] Loop 20 overpass, [and] that the vehicle ran a red light, and two vehicles - that had the right of way and were going northbound on Loop 20 turning west onto Saunders. They were caught in the middle of that.”
This is all that's left of one of the cars that received the worst of the impact. The 18 wheeler was traveling so fast that even after crashing into the two cars, it traveled all the way through the overpass, over the median, through oncoming traffic, and into the brush area even taking down the sign before coming to a complete stop. The strength of the impact sent the drivers of the cars caught in the middle to the hospital. Reports indicate that the female driver of the city vehicle was ejected as a result of this impact, and taken to Laredo Medical Center with serious injuries. The driver of the tractor trailer was also taken to the hospital, but for a blood test - all part of policy in these cases of accidents involving injury.
Also on the scene was the crash team tediously investigating the case. Baeza says, “They measure all the skid marks, and trajectories [of] where the vehicles wound up. [They] take measurements, and enter all the measurements into an equation, and that renders a speed and velocity. They're able to determine all the things based on all these finding here in the investigation."
In the end, the investigation led to the arrest of Duane Robert Willette, the driver of the tractor trailer.
The city employee who was sent to the hospital is 58 year old Rosario Valenzuela. She was airlifted to San Antonio, due to severe head trauma. The driver of the other vehicle is 63 year old Roberto Lucas Lerma, and was traveling with 34 year old Walter Jaime Lerma. They were transported to the local hospital. Aside from the three main vehicles involved, two other vehicles were affected by the accident, but the drivers are reportedly unharmed. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.