Two people were killed and five more sent to area hospitals when a car collided with a pair of motorcycles near Slidell Sunday afternoon.
The accident happened at 5:45 p.m. on Farm Road 51 at the Wise/Denton County line.
Jodi Liukkonen said she had been traveling behind three motorcycles headed north on 51 when she suddenly saw a car directly in front of her.
“I saw that car in my lane, and I went to the right,” she said. “As I’m going off the road, I see her hit the bikes, which flew up in the air. It all happened so quickly. I called 911.”
Liukkonen said it appeared the passenger car’s driver was attempting to pass in a no-passing zone when the collision occurred at the crest of a hill.
Sgt. Lonny Haschel, media spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the car made a direct hit on at least one motorcycle riding closest to the center line of the roadway. That motorcycle operator, Thomas Garcia, 53, of Ardmore, Okla., was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, Cassie Turner, 33, of Ardmore was taken by ground ambulance to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur where she died about an hour-and-a-half after the wreck.
A second motorcycle was riding beside Garcia’s bike and was also struck. Haschel said that bike’s operator, Dustin Bailey, 33, of Ardmore, and his passenger, Megan McCleary, 30, of Ringling, Okla., were also seriously injured.
Two helicopters were dispatched to the location to take Bailey and McCleary to Medical Center of Plano. Bailey was listed in stable condition Tuesday afternoon, and McCleary had been treated and released, according to a hospital spokesperson.
A third motorcyclist riding with the group took evasive action and avoided being hit.
The driver of the car that was southbound in the northbound lane was identified as Sherrie Rose, 32, of Weatherford. She and a front-seat passenger, Debra Crouch, 49, of Weatherford, were flown to Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth where they were listed in stable condition late Monday, Haschel said.
A hospital spokesperson said Tuesday afternoon that Crouch was in fair condition while they no longer listed Rose as a patient.
The fourth and final helicopter that responded to the scene took a back-seat passenger, 6-year-old Jacob Perrine of Weatherford, to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. Perrine could be seen clutching his stuffed teddy bear as he was wheeled through the debris field to the waiting helicopter.
He was also in stable condition late Monday.
Haschel said there was no indication drugs or alcohol played a part in the wreck, although the investigation is still in the early stages. No charges have been filed.
According to television station KXII in Ardmore, the motorcyclists had been to a Memorial Day rally in Chico and were returning home when the accident happened.
Farm Road 51 was completely shut down until just after 8 p.m. as traffic was rerouted down County Line Road and County Road 2825.
Multiple law enforcement agencies and fire departments responded, including the Greenwood/Slidell and Sanger fire departments, Denton and Wise County Sheriff’s officers and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.
Medical personnel that responded included Wise County Medic 1 and 4, Wise County Rescue 1, Air Evac Lifeteam 68 helicopter and three CareFlite helicopters. Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home also came to the scene to pick up Garcia, whose funeral arrangements are pending at Craddock Funeral Home in Ardmore.