Five Oil Field Workers Killed in Eagle Ford Traffic Accident
Last week, five oil field workers were killed when their van slammed into a tanker truck full of crude oil on Highway 83 in Dimmit County.
The crash, which occurred last Thursday at around 7 a.m, started when the tanker truck swerved in an attempt to avoid a pickup truck. That caused the tanker to roll over onto its side. It was then that the van full of oil field workers hit the truck, causing it to burst into flames.
In addition to the five men who were killed, three other people were seriously injured in the accident, including one who was transported to a local hospital in critical condition with burns over 85 percent of his body.
Texas Department of Public Safety officers are continuing to investigate the accident, but they did note that accidents have been increasing in the Eagle Ford Shale region since the beginning of the oil boom, mainly because of traffic among the workers in the oil fields and the oil tankers full of their haul.
One witness to the crash, another oil field worker, said it was the second such accident he’d seen recently in that area of highway 83, which police acknowledge is the focal point of the increase in traffic deaths in Webb and Dimmit Counties. According to a recent study, the number of people killed in Karnes County in 2012 was 12, as opposed to one death in 2008, just four years earlier.
Also on the rise all over South Texas are vehicle crashes involving three or more fatalities. Recent studies show that a large number of them have been caused by oil field workers who have worked long shifts — sometimes as much as 20 hours in a day — and then go home tired and fall asleep behind the wheel. It’s no help that a lack of available housing in the region has caused many oil field workers to have to drive long distances to make it home. In addition, many of the roads these workers have to drive on are rural roads carrying traffic beyond what they were made for, and the Texas Department of Transportation and local county governments are finding it difficult to keep up.
There is little doubt of the benefit the oil and gas boom has brought to the people of Texas, it’s come with significant costs. A lot of problems must be solved with regard to our traffic problems. Of course, it also means any accident investigation will have to consider a lot of factors, including the relative fatigue of all drivers involved, how many hours each of the drivers worked in the field, and the conditions of all vehicles in the accident.