Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Hedley accident claims lives of two women

A three-vehicle accident claimed two lives in Hedley last Friday afternoon and left emergency crews wondering for a time if a baby might also have been injured.

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Chad Simpson said Anginette Barajas of Longmont, Colo., was driving southbound on US 287 headed out of Hedley about 2:20 p.m. when she attempted to pass a 2003 Freightliner 18-wheeler driven by 52-year-old Luther Carnahan of Mart, Texas.

At the same time, Carnahan changed lanes in an unsafe manner in front of Barajas’ 1999 Honda Accord, causing her to veer to the left to avoid colliding with the truck. The truck moved back to the right, and Barajas overcorrected to the left, started sliding, overcorrected to the right, and slid sideways into oncoming traffic in the northbound lanes of US 287 into the path of a 2006 Volvo truck tractor semi-trailer driven by Lester Valentine of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Valentine could not avoid the collision as he struck the Honda broadside, ripping the car into three pieces, crossing the southbound lanes, and coming to rest in a field.

Donley County Justice of the Peace Jimmy Johnson pronounced Barajas, age 26, and her passenger, Kathleen Harman, 49, dead at the scene.

An empty child’s safety seat had the attention of everyone at the scene.

“We were very concerned about the possibility of a baby,” Simpson said. “But there was an extensive search of the wreckage and the area, and no baby was found. There was also no diaper bag or any other items to make us think there was a baby.”

Valentine’s passenger, 49-year-old Debra Bowling of Jackson, Miss., suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene.

Those responding to the accident included the DPS, the Hedley Volunteer Fire Department, the Donley County Sheriff’s Office, Associated Ambulance Authority, the Clarendon Volunteer Fire Department, and the Texas Department of Transportation.

Trooper Simpson said no charges have been filed in the case; but, as in all fatalities, it will likely be presented to the Grand Jury for consideration.

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