Witnesses Try To Save Driver In Fiery Crash

Nikki Prentice looked up and saw fire as she left a job interview Wednesday afternoon at the University Health Clinic on the corner of Patriot Avenue and University Boulevard. “As I was getting out, that’s when there were flames,” Ms. Prentice said.

Just before 4:30 p.m., a two-car accident left one driver dead catty-corner to the university’s clinic, police said. Ms. Prentice, a Tyler Junior College student, said she saw three people run up to the car to try to pull the driver out.

She said she heard volunteer rescuers screaming, “Somebody’s in the car.”

“As they got to the truck, it just blew up,” she said.

Tyler Police Sgt. Robert Phillips said a preliminary investigation showed the two cars were traveling north on University, toward Loop 323. The car traveling on the inside lane attempted to turn onto Patriot Avenue, lost control, started flipping and caught fire, Phillips said. The identity of the victim has not yet been released. Vic Thompson was on scene, and said his son-in-law, Tad, was one of the rescuers attempting to save the driver.

“He was here trying to help the guy,” Thompson said. “It blew up and caught on fire.”

Phillips said police officers and volunteers were “unsuccessful in pulling (the driver) out.” Tad was taken to East Texas Medical Center for burns from the explosion, Thompson said. Police said there were two witnesses who attempted the rescue and received minor burns.

Passengers in the other vehicle, a GMC Yukon, were not injured, Phillips said. Damage to the GMC was focused on the front left corner.

The windshield was cracked on the passenger side, and there was also some damage to the front right bumper of the car.

Accident investigators were on the scene, and traffic was blocked on University Boulevard near the University of Texas at Tyler to about a quarter-mile north near Gail Lane.

The speed limit on University at that intersection is 45 mph.

The University of Texas at Tyler Police department is assisting Tyler Police in the investigation. Tyler Fire Department was also on scene. “It’s a tragedy. I’m shook, I’m nervous,” Ms. Prentice said. “God bless this family, whoever they may be.”


Published March 10
Tyler Morning Telegraph


Published by

Melissa Crowe

I’m Melissa, an adventure-seeking, budget-crunching, internet-loving journalist. Along with covering local government at Victoria Advocate, I write a weekly music column for Get Out and freelance for University of Houston-Victoria in my spare time. In this year’s Texas Associated Press Managing Editors awards, I won first place for star breaking news report of the year, first star online package of the year, first community service and first deadline writing. I also won third place for team effort, honorable mention for freedom of information, and honorable mention for star investigative report of the year. I also took first place for best breaking news story in the Local Media Association Editorial Contest, a national contest. Last year, I won second in the TAPME contest for star online package, third for star breaking news report and honorable mentions for star investigative report and team effort. The Local Media Association awarded me with an honorable mention for best breaking news story. I grew up in rural northern Texas and graduated from the University of North Texas. After working for a family-owned paper in the eastern corner of the state, I took an opportunity to move south. When I’m not filing FOIA requests, I enjoy spicy Bloody Marys, kayaking the Guadalupe River and exploring South Texas. Would you like to hire me to write or edit something? Or ask me a question? Or send me a link to a funny GIF? Email me!

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