2017 in Review: Traffic fatalities increased in 2017

By Messenger Staff | Published Saturday, December 30, 2017

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Tragic Crash

TRAGIC CRASH – A truck driven by Jimmy Foreman, 60, hit a fence after crossing into the southbound lanes from the northbound lanes of Texas 101. He hit a southbound 18-wheeler before crashing into the fence. Foreman died a week later. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Twenty-one people were killed on Wise County roads in 2017, the deadliest total in four years.

Last year 19 traffic fatalities were reported, with 17 in 2015, 16 in 2014 and 14 in 2013.

Summertime 2017 was particularly tragic with 10 people killed in a three-month period May 16 to Aug. 26. Eight of those were in June and July, including one fatal crash every week in the month of July.

December was also marked by tragedy with two fatal crashes in the first week and two in the third week, just before Christmas.


JAN. 11 – Leoncio Martinez, 52, of Bridgeport was killed in a single-vehicle rollover in far southwest Wise County. Martinez was traveling eastbound on wet roadways about 6:30 a.m. on Texas 199 west of Farm 920 near Poolville when his pickup lost traction at a curve in the road. The truck rolled on its side, and Martinez was ejected. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

JAN. 24 – Devin Geninatti, 17, of Bridgeport was hit by a car on Texas 114 northwest of Paradise. The accident occurred around 8:30 p.m. Witnesses at the scene told investigating officers that Geninatti, who was standing in front of a vehicle parked on the side of the road, appeared to have jumped in front of a car traveling westbound from Paradise on 114. Geninatti was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth where he later died.


MAY 16 – Mearl Miner, 51, of Fort Worth died when his motorcycle was struck head-on by an SUV on Farm Road 730 near County Road 4765 south of Boyd. Miner was northbound on 730 when a southbound Lincoln SUV crossed the center line for unknown reasons and struck the motorcycle. The SUV came to rest in the grass on the west side of the road. Its driver was taken via ground ambulance to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Azle.


JUNE 3 – Christine Kim, 16, of Wichita Falls died when she was ejected from the Toyota 4Runner in which she was riding on U.S. 81/287 just south of Alvord. The vehicle was traveling southbound on the highway around noon when the driver, Daniel Kim, 49, of Oklahoma City, lost control of the vehicle, which slid through the median and started to roll. Kim was ejected from the vehicle and went through the window of a northbound Toyota Tundra on U.S. 81/287. The three occupants of the Tundra and the other three occupants of the 4Runner were transported to Wise Health System, Denton Regional and Denton Memorial hospitals.

JUNE 7 – Kathryn Joseph, 64, of Bowie was killed just after 3 a.m. at the intersection of County Road 1596 and U.S. 81/287 near the Exxon truck stop north of Alvord. A pickup traveling eastbound on CR 1596 pulled into the southbound lanes of U.S. 81/287 to cross over and head north on the highway. Joseph’s car struck the side of the pickup, whose occupants were not injured.

JUNE 24 – Britton Podzemny, 34, of Bridgeport died when his motorcycle ran off the road and hit a fence on Farm Road 2123 two miles south of Bridgeport.

JUNE 27 – Michael Banfalvi, 45, of Little Elm died following an accident on Texas 114 just east of Rhome city limits. Banfalvi was driving a box truck eastbound on the highway about 2:30 p.m. when he attempted to pass an 18-wheeler on the right shoulder. The 18-wheeler was turning into a driveway on the right side of the road and was hit by the box truck, which rolled onto its side. Banfalvi was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the 18-wheeler was not injured.


JULY 6 – Nicholas Chance Rhodes, 17 of Boyd was killed in a head-on collision on Farm Road 2123, just east of Cottondale. Rhodes was driving eastbound in a Toyota Tundra about 4 p.m. when he crossed into the westbound lane of traffic, colliding head-on with a Ford pickup. The driver of the Ford was extricated from his vehicle by first responders and flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth with serious injuries. Rhodes was a Paradise High School student.

JULY 12 – Coby McNabb, 30, of Weatherford died in a two-vehicle wreck at the intersection of Farm Roads 2123 and 51, east of Cottondale. McNabb was southbound on FM 51 about 10 a.m. when a Dodge Ram, which was stopped on FM 2123 facing east, pulled into the path of McNabb’s vehicle. McNabb died at the scene. The driver of the Ram was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth with serious injuries. The wreck damaged a water main at the intersection, sending water spraying into the air. This crash occurred about one mile east of the location of the July 6 fatality.

JULY 20 – Robert D. Shepherd, 53, of Alvord was killed in a two-vehicle wreck on U.S. 81/287 about three miles north of Decatur. Shepherd’s Chevrolet Camaro left the roadway, struck a tree and flipped into a creek bottom after he attempted to pass a black Ford SUV. Both vehicles were traveling northbound and Shepherd failed to give the SUV enough room when passing, striking its front left fender with the back of his car, shooting the Camaro off the roadway. The SUV’s occupants were not injured.

JULY 28 – Wade Bates, 12, of Sunset died in a single-vehicle wreck on Greenwood Road. Four juveniles were driving back from a fishing trip when a deer ran across the road. The driver swerved to miss the animal and overcorrected, causing the SUV to roll. The three surviving occupants were taken to hospitals to treat their injuries. Two were flown from the scene by air ambulance.


AUG. 26 – Gary Santoro, 45, of Keller died in a two-vehicle crash on Texas 114 west of Boyd near County Road 4593. Santoro was driving a silver Ford Fiesta and attempted a U-turn from the eastbound shoulder of the road, turning into the path of an eastbound Ford pickup. The pickup struck the car at its driver door, and the force of the collision sent both vehicles across the road and onto the westbound shoulder.
The driver of the pickup was not injured.


SEPT. 4 – Payten Tynsky, 16, was killed in a wreck Labor Day when she lost control of her vehicle on Farm Road 730 near County Road 4480 north of Boyd. Tynsky was traveling northbound in a Chevrolet pickup on FM 730 about 1:45 p.m. when she lost control of the vehicle and overcorrected, causing it to enter a side skid and cross into the path of a southbound Dodge pickup. The Dodge’s driver swerved into the southbound shoulder to avoid the collision but struck the Chevrolet as both entered the shoulder. Both pickups came to rest against a nearby fence. The occupants of the Dodge pickup were taken to Wise Health System in Decatur via ground ambulance. Tynsky was pronounced dead at the scene. She was a Decatur High School student.

SEPT. 15 – Jimmy Foreman, 60, of Decatur was critically injured in an accident Sept. 15 and died a week later. Foreman was driving an 18-wheeler northbound on Texas 101 just north of Bridgeport around 6 a.m. when he crossed the median into the southbound lanes for unknown reasons. Foreman hit another 18-wheeler traveling southbound, and his vehicle came to rest off the road after hitting a fence. The driver of the southbound 18-wheeler was not injured.


NOV. 3 – Brian Eustace, 33, of Bridgeport died when his pickup struck a tractor-trailer on U.S. 81/287 at Ramhorn Hill Road. Eustace was traveling southbound on 287 about 5:30 a.m. when his 2010 Ford F-150 struck the tractor-trailer crossing the highway to go northbound. The tractor-trailer driver was not injured.

NOV. 4 – Joshua Walters, 34, of Forestburg died when his motorcycle crashed near the intersection of Farm Roads 455 and 51 North. Walters was traveling eastbound on 455 near Slidell and likely took a curve too fast. The motorcycle ran off the road and hit an embankment. Walters was not wearing a helmet. It was unclear when the accident occurred, but a passerby spotted the motorcycle and called 911 around 10:25 p.m.

NOV. 23 – Bailie C. Jackson-Samford, 25, of Sunset died in a two-vehicle collision in the southbound lanes of U.S. 81/287 two miles north of Farm Road 407. An 18-wheeler oilfield truck was southbound and in the turning lane near a crossover when it was struck from behind by Samford’s pickup. Samford was extricated from her vehicle and flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth where she died the next day. The driver of the 18-wheeler was not injured. The wreck was the third major accident within a two-mile stretch of U.S. 81/287 in as many days.


DEC. 2 – Carlos Arellano, 29, was killed in a motorcycle wreck on Farm Road 2264 just east of U.S. 81/287. Arellano was westbound on 2264 around 5:30 p.m. when he attempted to pass another vehicle. Arellano then hit a curb and lost control. The motorcycle went off the roadway and into a fence pole.

DEC. 3 – Rocky Leon Littrell, 64, of Bridgeport died at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth five days after a Dec. 3 motorcycle crash on Farm Road 1655 just west of Alvord. Littrell and his 14-year-old grandson were on their way to the Wise County Toy Run when the accident occurred. They were traveling westbound about 10:45 a.m. when the motorcycle left the roadway for an unknown reason. The teenager was flown to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth and was expected to make a full recovery.

DEC. 19 – Jacinda King, 26, of Paradise was killed when her car ran off Farm Road 2123 about 7:30 a.m. She was traveling northbound when the accident occurred. King overcorrected, and the vehicle slid across the roadway before striking a tree and a fence. The car came to rest on its side in a field. There were three children, ages 8, 5 and 4, also in the car. Two were transported to Wise Health System, and one was transported to Cook Children’s Medical Center.

DEC. 21 – Brad Landen, 38, of Alvord died in a single-vehicle rollover on Texas 101 north of Chico. He was traveling southbound when his Nissan Altima entered the northbound lanes for an unknown reason. Skid marks show the vehicle crossed back over into the southbound lane, entering a side skid and then going off the road and into the ditch. The vehicle then rolled, and the driver was ejected. He was not wearing a seat belt. The wreck was first reported around 8 p.m.

Editor’s note: Information about traffic accidents is obtained by Messenger reporters from Department of Public safety troopers and the DPS public information officer.


In addition to the 21 traffic fatalities, the Messenger also reported the following deaths:

Tommy Carlton, 57, of Bridgeport was shot and killed in February by Jordan Hall, 30, inside Hall’s home. According to Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin, the two had been in “an ongoing squabble” since Carlton accidentally shot and killed Eric Nelson, a mutual friend, in 2016. A Wise County grand jury decided in May Hall would not face charges in the shooting.

The son of a Decatur business owner, Nicholas Flusche of Muenster, was shot by a San Francisco police officer in May. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Flusche was stabbing a man inside a Subway sandwich shop, and officers intervened, killing Flusche.

A 15-year-old – who was not identified because he’s a minor – was charged with murder in August after killing David Oakes, 49, at the family’s home in the Diamond Ridge neighborhood north of Rhome. Officers who responded to a disturbance call at the residence found Oakes with multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene. According to Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin, the shooting occurred after the boy and Oakes had been arguing. The teen fled the scene but was caught in New Mexico three days later.

Wesley Russell, 48, suffered fatal injuries in a fire at his Bridgeport home in October. According to Bridgeport Police Chief Steve Stanford, Russell was taken by ground ambulance to Wise Health System in Decatur as medics performed CPR, but Russell was later pronounced dead at the hospital. None of the other family members who lived at the home were there at the time of the fire. The two-story, brick structure was a total loss.

Four members of a Bridgeport family were killed in an early-morning house fire Thanksgiving weekend in Garland. Lorenzo Castillo, 41, his wife Ana Castillo, 29, along with Ana’s 5-year-old daughter Alia and the couple’s 2-year-old son Alan, died in the fire that was reported just after 1 a.m. Ana’s oldest child, Abel, 8, and four other people escaped the home. The family was visiting Lorenzo’s brother. According to a report by NBC Channel 5, authorities traced the fire to an enclosed back patio and don’t believe the blaze was intentional. The fire marshal said there was a space heater, refrigerator and other electronics in the room and a fire pit outside. The Castillos moved from Garland to Bridgeport in October 2016 to help care for Ana’s stepfather, who has cancer.

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