A near cat-astrophe; Feline distraction blamed for wreck

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, January 6, 2018

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A driver who said she was distracted by a pet cat in her vehicle began a series of wrecks early Wednesday morning in South Wise County.

Lt. Lonny Haschel, a spokesperson with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the driver of a passenger car was northbound on U.S. 81/287 near Farm Road 407 north of Rhome around 12:15 a.m. when she apparently became distracted by her pet cat who was traveling with her. The driver then hit a guardrail on the inside shoulder of the road, causing damage to the guard rail.

The driver pulled off to the right shoulder and stopped.

An 18-wheeler also traveling northbound saw the car on the right shoulder and moved into the left lane, where it struck the damaged guardrail, which was partially in the lane of traffic.

The truck driver lost control, causing the truck to jackknife as it crossed into the southbound lanes of U.S. 81/287. A southbound Honda SUV then struck the 18-wheeler.

Both the truck driver and the SUV driver were transported to Wise Health System in Decatur with what Haschel described as non-life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the first car, and the cat, were not injured.

Both the northbound and southbound lanes were shut down for more than an hour as the wreck was cleared.

Multiple agencies assisted at the large wreck scene, including the Texas Department of Public Safety, Wise County Sheriff’s Office, Rhome Police Department, Boyd Police Department, East Wise Fire Department, Newark Fire Department and Wise County EMS.

Names of those involved in the wreck were not available as of press time Friday.

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