In the middle of winter, sand and skating abounded.

Those are the two activities area officials noticed the most after a winter weather system moved through Navarro County Wednesday and into Thursday.

Darwin Myers, Navarro County area engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation, said sanding crews from the agency’s local office ran steadily overnight Wednesday.

“First we were on I-45, then Highway 31,” Myers said. “All the bridges were done, but as it turned out the roadways froze too.”

TxDOT crew foreman Eddie Gregory said it was the icing of roads that surprised his workers.

“What hit us last night was the roads turned out as bad or worse than the bridges, but it was just in spots,” he said.

Gregory, on duty for more than 30 straight hours when he talked to the Daily Sun Thursday afternoon, said TxDOT ran five sand trucks through the night. They began about 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“We’d sand constant about two hours, take a break for a couple of hours, then start over,” Gregory said. “We tried to get sand down before (the precipitation) hit, then come back after and put some more down.”

TxDOT crews put down about 432 tons of “chat”, a road sand used to provide extra traction.

Gregory said the worse times on the roadways he saw occurred between 4:30 a.m. and about 9 a.m. Thursday when there was “accident after accident. ... It was like fighting a losing battle.”

Texas Highway Patrol Trooper John Nelson knows what Gregory was talking about. He saw first hand the dings and scrapes vehicles took as they slipped and slid around Thursday.

Including one particularly unusual accident.

Nelson said a pickup pulling a flatbed trailer jack-knifed on the northbound lanes of I-45 just north of Richland on the first of two bridges there. Another car stopped to help the folks in the truck get things straightened out, he said.

The people heard an 18-wheeler start sliding and began getting out of the way, Nelson said. Two from the pickup jumped over what they thought was a guard rail.

It was a bridge rail.

“It must have been a 25, 30 foot drop,” Nelson said. “I don’t know how somebody didn’t die.”

They were transported to the hospital.

Nelson said the eventful day of dealing with the weather and its aftermath was made easier by interagency cooperation. He noted the help of fellow trooper Jeff Taylor, Rice Police Department units, Blooming Grove Police Chief George Willoughby, the Navarro County Sheriff’s Office and the Corsicana Police Department.

He praised NCSO deputy Darren Murray for coming in on his off duty time to help out and emergency management coordinator Eric Meyers Jr. Nelson said Meyers rode with him and kept all law enforcement informed with weather updates Meyers obtained from a wireless Internet connection on his laptop.

“It was a great help to have all the agencies working together,” Nelson said.


Loyd Cook may be reached via e-mail at

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