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Kilgore PD: Driver in collision with TxDOT convoy was distracted by his GPS

By Sarah Thomas sthomas@news-journal.com
March 14, 2014 at 11 p.m.


The driver of a tractor-trailer was distracted Friday morning when he slammed into the back of a TxDOT convoy, flipping one of the vehicles over.

The crash that blocked traffic on Business U.S. 259 in Kilgore happened at 8:15 a.m. when the driver of a tractor-trailer got distracted by his GPS device, said Assistant Kilgore Police Chief Roman Roberson. By 1:30 p.m. Friday crews were still on scene working to clean up oil and diesel fuel that had spilled during the wreck.

Joseph William Lee, 59, of Longview was driving a Texas Department of Transportation pickup south in the 3500 block of Business U.S. 259 behind a rubber tire front end loader - a piece of heavy equipment being driven driven in the outside lane - according to police reports.

Bogdan Jutrznia, 55, of Ontario, Canada, was driving the tractor-trailer behind the TxDOT convoy when he became "distracted by his GPS and failed to control his speed," according to police.

The tractor-trailer hit the rear of the TxDOT truck, causing it to rollover, Roberson said.

"(The front end loader) has safety lights as well as our pickup and all safety lights were working," said TxDOT Tyler District Engineer and spokesman Randy Hopmann. "From what we understand, the driver never touched his breaks and ran into our truck that was shadowing the heavy equipment."

The wreck, he said, is an example of why lawmakers expanded the state's Slow Down/Move Over to include TxDOT vehicles.

Under Senate Bill 510, motorists must change lanes or slow down when approaching TxDOT vehicles working on the roadways with their overhead lights flashing.

Prior to the expansion, the law required drivers to yield to police, fire and other emergency vehicles.

"Safety is our priority. The public's safety as well as the safety of our employees," Hopmann said.

Roberson said Jutrznia was not injured, and Lee was taken to Good Shepherd Medical Center where he was treated for minor injuries and released.

- Follow Sarah Thomas on Twitter: @SarahLNJ

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