Three wrecks cause traffic nightmare on Katy Freeway in Brookshire area

November 2, 2012 10:00:00 PM PDT
One section of Katy Freeway was left charred and scarred Friday after three different crashes involving two 18-wheelers, three other vehicles and a dump truck.

The wrecks created a massive mess on Interstate 10 near FM 359 in the Brookshire area. But in its wake, we learned of an even more incredible story -- a story of courage in the face of danger.

One iWitness video sent to Eyewitness News shows one of the big rigs as it careened off the freeway and exploded.

"It was completely in flames. You could see the whole cab was -- it was bad. It was scary," eyewitness Makayla McShan said.

Those working at Steinhauser's, just off the freeway, couldn't believe what they were seeing.

"It was pretty violent. Honestly, it looked like a movie. It looked like something right out of a movie," witness David Steinhauser said.

Steinhauser and Barrett Appel were working outside the store at the time of the crash. As quickly as the rig blew, they say, it was as if in slow motion. They knew immediately they had to run to help.

"It was hot. And that smoke, I mean it blacked out the sky. You couldn't see a thing," Appel said.

They admit hesitating only a split second because of the flames while running toward the cab. Somehow, they were able to open the driver's side door and pluck the driver out.

"You just didn't think about it. You just ran and you did it 'cause you just knew that somebody needed help," Steinhauser said.

From SkyEye HD, you could see how the wreck backed up traffic for miles on the westbound lanes of I-10 most of the afternoon.

Brookshire police say that wreck spawned a chain reaction of crashes just a few hundred yards west on the other side of I-10. There, another big rig tangled with three other vehicles. A medical helicopter had to rush one of the injured to the hospital.

Traffic on the eastbound side of the freeway was shut down for several hours. Investigators say those wrecks were caused by folks distracted by the rig on fire on the westbound side.

Then further westbound, another truck overturned and lost its load. It's unclear if that incident is related to either of the two prior.

Those who pulled the big rig driver to safety are humble and they hesitate to be labeled heroes.

"It was not on one of my things that I'd be doing today," Appel joked.

We are still working on finding out how all the injured are doing. At least three people were hurt. Police tell us somehow, everyone survived.

We do not yet know the cause of the initial wreck with the rig.


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