Smoke from a burning field was listed as the cause of a six vehicle chain reaction pileup Monday afternoon, April 11, about 10 miles east of Vernon, Texas in the northbound lane of US Highway 287.
Amazingly LaQuita Gaines Mitchell of Electra, Texas escaped death or serious injury in the accident. Mitchell, driver of a 1999 Dodge Neon, was trapped in her vehicle under a Freightliner tractor involved in the pileup. According to Fire Chief Charles Stewart, she said, "I want out of here" as he approached her vehicle.
She was taken to Wilbarger General Hospital by Fire Department ambulance with possible shoulder injuries. She was treated and released and later returned to the accident scene.
Troy Drinnon of Pampa was the driver of a 2003 Ford one-ton pickup, the last vehicle in the wreckage. He was taken to Wilbarger General Hospital with possible head injuries.
Fire department personnel used the Jaws of Life to free both victims.
Arnold Perez of Dallas, Texas was driving a 1975 Kenworth, the first vehicle involved in the wreck. He said that when he saw the smoke, he slowed down and was pulling onto the shoulder of the highway when he was hit from behind by a 2005 Freightliner driven by Lawrence Vullo of Deland, Fla.
Vullo said that he saw the smoke, but a sudden wind shift caused a cloud of dense smoke to cross the highway resulting in zero visibility. Vullo snapped his fingers and said, "It happened just like that."
Fire department personnel said that the wind speed was at 21 mph at the time of the accident.
Jessie Alvarado of Thalia, Texas then plowed into the rear of Vullo's truck. He was driving a 1996 Freightliner. Emergency workers treated him at the scene for minor injuries.
The Dodge Neon was apparently the fourth vehicle in the accident.
George Schille of Plano, Texas, driver of the 2005 Freightliner that ran on top of the Neon, said that he never even saw the vehicle. He said that he almost had a heart attack when he was getting out and saw the small vehicle under the cab of his truck. Schille said, "I don't know where she came from, I had no idea that I was on top a car." He said that the driver of another truck had not seen her car either. He said he didn