Accident

Drivers echo concerns over reduced visibility on Central Texas highway in the wake of firefighter’s death

BELL COUNTY, Texas (KWTX) – Dozens of first responders on Wednesday escorted the body of Cole Simmons from Temple to Aderhold Funeral Home in West after the 23-year-old EMT and firefighter was killed in a crash Tuesday near Copperas Cove.

DPS Troopers responded to the scene of the wreck on SH 9 at about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. An investigation revealed the driver of a 2021 Toyota RAV SUV, a 24-year-old woman from Harker Heights, was travelling east on SH 9. DPS said the woman claimed her visibility was impaired by the rising sun, resulting in her crossing into the westbound lane and colliding with the 2014 Chevrolet sedan driven by the 23-year-old Simmons.

Many drivers who spoke or reached out to KWTX said that, since daylight saving time ended in November, that patch of road is tough to drive in the mornings because the sunlight is in their eyes.

“I saw a lot of brake lights, so I started slowing down. And next thing I know there was a car coming at me,” said Pati Thomas, a Kempner resident also involved in the wreck that claimed the life of Simmons.

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Thomas said she is used to driving the stretch of Highway 9 where it happened, but there was nothing that could prepare her for driving into the wreck that took the life of Simmons.

“And it was just absolutely blinding,” said Thomas. “And, as I’ve said in my Facebook post, that sun was brutal.”

Thomas was fortunate to survive the wreck with only bruises and soreness. Regardless, she is still concerned about the reduced visibility in that area as the sun rises.

“For those of us who drive that every day, it’s every time we crest that hill there’s the sun,” said Thomas.

But for now, it is just something to try and get used to.

“That little area in between the visor and the dash, you know that sun is just right in your eyes,” said Thomas.

Written by Michael A. Cantu

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