An early evening wreck Monday created a nightmarish scene on U.S. 81/287, killing three, including a teenager from Rhome.
A 1998 Dodge Stratus with Texas dealer tags sped beneath the back end of a parked tractor-trailer shortly before 7 p.m. at the rest area on U.S. 81/287 several miles north of Decatur. The impact sheared off the top half of the vehicle, leaving three of the five passengers dead.
Brittney N. Robare, 15, of Rhome and Terri Williams, 16, of Abilene, were killed instantly. The driver, Michael J. Santos, 20, who lived in Aubrey but had a Florida driver’s license, was also killed on impact.
Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Clay Poynor arrived at the scene at 7:25 p.m. to pronounce the male driver and two female passengers dead.
Teenage brothers Dakota and Devin Ramey, 15 and 16 respectively, both of Newark, received transport by a pair of helicopters to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
As of Tuesday, the brothers were listed in critical condition and hooked up to ventilators.
One witness saw the car northbound on U.S. 81/287, passing vehicles in excess of 90 mph.
“They had to be doing 100,” said Kenny Dumm, who witnessed the accident. “They came off the highway and ran underneath the back of the parked truck.”
The driver of the truck was asleep in the cab. He was resting at the roadside park when the impact jarred him awake.
George Davis was cutting copper at his nearby business when he heard the crash. He was one of the first on the scene, and he dialed 911 immediately.
“My heart is sick,” Davis said. “They are just kids. I just hate this.”
Davis is a former volunteer firefighter.
Wise County EMS and Decatur Fire Department worked the scene. The hands and clothes of rescue workers were stained with blood.
“I’m rattled,” Davis said. “I’m shook up. I haven’t seen anything like this in a long time.”
The car was completely wedged beneath the back end of the truck. The crash knocked off the truck’s bumper, leaving it bent several yards away. The collision peeled back the hood and roof of the car and left it crumpled like foil. Shattered glass and specks of blood coated the asphalt around the wreck.
“They just came off the road too hot,” Davis said.
Tire tracks tore across a strip of grass separating the highway and the rest area.
Investigating state trooper Russell Reid said a toxicology report will determine if the driver was intoxicated. He said he’s still not sure why the wreck occurred.
“I’m not 100 percent sure,” Reid said. “I know speed was a factor. There is no suspicion of alcohol at this time. The only two people I can talk to are on ventilating machines.”
Reid said they had just left Newark and were headed to Black Creek Lake park in the Lyndon B. Johnson National Grasslands. A county road by the rest area leads to the lake.
“The driver might have thought he was missing the only turn to Black Creek and tried to turn in at the last second,” Reid said.
The tragic wreck has left families and friends in mourning.
“I’ve been up crying all night,” said Robare’s step-grandmother Francis Bland, of Whitesboro. “All I know is she was with some friends and then this happened.”
Robare attended Northwest High School. Her parents are Lisa and Jody Henson. She had a younger sister, Cheyanne Henson.
These are the first confirmed fatalities from a car wreck in Wise County since last October when a couple from Alabama was killed in a three-vehicle accident.