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Longview man hit, killed at scene of pileup

By Robin Claridy
Nov. 2, 2010 at 6 p.m.

A Longview man who stopped to help after witnessing a state trooper's wreck on Estes Parkway was struck and killed Tuesday morning as he directed traffic at the scene.

Another man was injured in the resulting four-car pileup in the 4000 block of Estes Parkway.

Officials said the chain reaction wrecks about 11 a.m. Tuesday were the result of an earlier crash in which a Texas Department of Public Safety officer lost control of his southbound vehicle, veered across northbound lanes and struck a gas meter. He was not injured.

The victim, identified by a family member as Trent Hep-ler, 32, of Longview was pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace Sam Lawson.

A stretch of the roadway was closed during the early afternoon hours as investigators worked on the ground and a DPS photographer worked from a helicopter overhead to document the scene.

Longview Police spokesman Kevin Brownlee said the pileup occurred when two motorists who witnessed the trooper's wreck stopped on the southbound shoulder of Estes Parkway. As they were checking the trooper's condition and directing traffic, the driver of a BNSF crane truck pulling a trailer lost control, as it tried to avoid vehicles slowing at the scene. The truck and trailer struck the other vehicles and Hepler.

DPS spokeswoman Jean Dark said Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Trooper David Rice was southbound at "unsafe speeds" when he lost control of his vehicle. Leaking gas was shut down by the Longview Fire Department. Dark said it was unknown why the trooper was driving so fast.

Longview Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Longview Fire Department all assisted with the crash.

Funeral services for Hepler are pending with Rader Funeral Home in Longview.



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