Off-duty HPD officer dies after motorcycle collides with cow

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It was a freak accident that the off-duty officer's family tells Eyewitness News could have been easily avoided.

It was a freak accident. A Houston police officer was killed when he collided with a cow in the middle of the road. His family is speaking only to Eyewitness News, saying his death could have been avoided.

"My brother was a very caring person, a loving person and always helping others. Loved his job," says Terrell Branford.

Torrean Branford worked for HPD's vehicular homicide division. Family members say keeping people safe on the road was his passion. Even the night he died.

"The night before he left he told me to drive safe and drive the Beltway because drunk drivers will be on the freeways and he told me he was going to take 99 back home. He said he would call me when he gets there," he said.

Terrell Branford never got that call from his brother. Torrean was on his motorcycle traveling along a dark section of SH 99 when he slammed into a black cow and died.

"I remember as soon as I got to 99, there were streetlights in every corner, but when I got to the accident scene it was totally dark," said Branford.

Eyewitness News traveled the dark road to see what the family was concerned about. Our only source of light at one point was the light for my photographers camera, but when we turned the light off it was pitch black.

The street lights are there, but on the stretch of the road where the accident happened, they're not working. Family members believe if that area was lit, Torrean's death could've possibly been prevented.

"I think he would've been able to see the cow a lot farther. To lose my brother over something like that that could've been prevented it hurts," added Branford.

The road is owned by TxDOT. We spoke with officials about the lighting situation and they told us, "We do not have high mast illumination on SH 99 between FM 529 and West Road. We do have illumination along other stretches of SH 99, some of which may be out due to weather issues (i.e. lightning) and other reasons. We currently have a contractor assessing these outages and they will make repairs as needed."
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