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Worst Accident?

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Not to be too macabre or scare away new residents, but what is the worst accident you have seen or heard about on Houston freeways? And what did you think could have prevented it?

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Heard about: I'd have to go with the ammonia truck as well.

 

Seen: I didn't actually see it happen, but came upon the scene immediately after it occurred a few years ago. 610 eastbound at the interchange with 45 North/South. The entire engine and transmission from what had been a midsize Chrysler sedan was sitting in the middle of one of the lanes on fire. The person who was presumably the driver had been ejected from the vehicle and was lying on the side of the road. Think about the massive force required to detach the entire powertrain from a vehicle. It was as if someone had extracted the engine/tranny with an engine hoist and deposited it in the roadway. 

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I'd have to go with the 1970s ammonia truck accident as the worst accident I've heard of happening on a Houston road. That accident could've been prevented if the truck driver hadn't tried to take the ramp at high speed.

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Some time ago, I want to say maybe 2002-2004, there was a traffic accident that made the front pages both of The Chron and the local Eagle. Due to the proximity of it, I want to say it was probably on 290, but it's been so long only the hazy memory of what it looked like remains. I could probably point it out in a line-up, but I'm not going to browse through hundreds of microfilm pages.

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I was only a few months old at the time, but Mom said she was driving with me and my sister on 59 just before that accident occurred. 

 

this was taken looking north towards the interchange.

 

34hJjjt.jpg

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There was an accident on 59 SB on the elevated portion near montrose in the late 1990s.  Fuel truck and passenger cars (accident caused by cars as I recall).  Truck burned and truck driver died, I think). Fuel burned and caught structures next to elevated freeway on fire.

Edited by UtterlyUrban

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17 hours ago, Ross said:

That picture is from 610, isn't it? 

Yes. The old Pearl beer distributorship in Bellaire. The Memorial Herman Orthopedic hospital sit's there now. 

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My dad is somewhere in the stopped traffic on 610.  If anyone sees a blue '73 LeSabre...

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On 10/27/2016 at 11:55 AM, Fringe said:

Yes. The old Pearl beer distributorship in Bellaire. The Memorial Herman Orthopedic hospital sit's there now. 

It's kinda interesting that the 610 SB feeder appears to be a 2-way road at that time, especially in a built up, urban area. 

Edited by JLWM8609

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I don't know about the worst, but the ones that scare me most are the wrong-way drivers on a highway.  Typically, the wrong-way driver is drunk and survives while the people he hits die.

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On 10/27/2016 at 10:01 AM, mollusk said:

My dad is somewhere in the stopped traffic on 610.  If anyone sees a blue '73 LeSabre...

 

I think he's still there.......some kind of logjam......I passed it by about an hour ago.........he was munching on a sandwich:lol:

 

The ammonia truck is what sticks with me. All that hazardous cargo airborne.........and then the impact. It's hard to imagine anything worse than that.

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The ammonia truck got national, breaking news coverage.  When I wandered in to work that afternoon - in Missouri - my co workers hit me with "You're from Houston.  Is the intersection of 610 and 59 a big one?"

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While not as disastrous as the ammonia disaster (which I fully believe was the inspiration for the "Chemical Spill" scenario in SimCity 2000, where a mass of toxic clouds cause every building they touch to be abandoned as Sims flee the premises), 610 and 59 was also where the late Emilio Navaira (who passed away earlier this year) was involved in a drunk-driving accident that kept him in a coma for a few weeks.

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30 minutes ago, The Pragmatist said:

I know this is not in Houston, but it's still in southeast Texas. There was a 100-car pile up a few years back on I-10 near Beaumont.

Oh yeah, I remember that. IIRC it was Thanksgiving (or Thanksgiving Eve) November 2012. I was at my uncle's house in Waco for Thanksgiving, and after reading about it we all kind of nodded and agreed that it was a good thing there that my uncle didn't live in Baton Rouge anymore, where we would've had to take I-10.

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16 minutes ago, IronTiger said:

Oh yeah, I remember that. IIRC it was Thanksgiving (or Thanksgiving Eve) November 2012. I was at my uncle's house in Waco for Thanksgiving, and after reading about it we all kind of nodded and agreed that it was a good thing there that my uncle didn't live in Baton Rouge anymore, where we would've had to take I-10.

 

Knowing what a simple fender bender can do to traffic, I can only imagine the nightmare of traffic that it caused. Hey, but being in traffic is better than being involved in the pile up itself, I guess. :rolleyes:

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3 minutes ago, The Pragmatist said:

 

Knowing what a simple fender bender can do to traffic, I can only imagine the nightmare of traffic that it caused. Hey, but being in traffic is better than being involved in the pile up itself, I guess. :rolleyes:

Yes, and hopefully you kept a charged iPhone to look up traffic. As it turns out, if worse came to worse, Highway 73 becomes a very appealing alternative...connects to I-10 at both points (Winnie and Orange), four laned the entire way, freeway in urban areas and divided in most others.

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Highway 73 is a very appealing alternative pretty much all the time - Beaumont is almost as bad as Baton Rouge for having everything come to a long lasting dead halt for something like a dog peeing on a tree (he said, after experiencing precisely that last night for the zillionth time).

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The ammonia truck accident is by far the top accident in Houston's freeway history. I was working at the Decorative Center that day and had several patrons come into the showroom claiming to have just missed being in it themselves. I went up to the roof of the parking garage to have a look but couldn't see anything above the tree tops.

 

I experienced an incident one evening coming out of Galveston on the previous causeway. As I was climbing the high part in the fast lane nearing the top a set of headlights appeared in front of me just cresting from the other direction. I quickly moved to the right, letting him calmly go by. Others behind me did the same, as the hapless wrong way driver continued on his way, on into town, I presume. This mistake can still be easily made by a driver (inebriated or not), from the entrance/exit ramps at the Tiki Island off/on ramp. 

I experienced white knuckles the rest of the drive home, and a shot of Irish Whiskey helped get me to sleep that night.

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On 10/26/2016 at 9:07 AM, IronTiger said:

Some time ago, I want to say maybe 2002-2004, there was a traffic accident that made the front pages both of The Chron and the local Eagle. Due to the proximity of it, I want to say it was probably on 290, but it's been so long only the hazy memory of what it looked like remains. I could probably point it out in a line-up, but I'm not going to browse through hundreds of microfilm pages.

 

I think this is the one you're thinking of, from December 28, 2002

http://edition.cnn.com/2002/US/Southwest/12/28/houston.pileup/index.html

 

I do remember it, but for some reason I misremembered a few details. I thought it was on the South Loop around Bellaire, and I thought it was later in the day like around 10-11 AM. The only other thing I remember was when we still had News 24 Houston on cable, they really stuck with it and ran some interesting aerial shots of the wreckage after the fog had cleared up a bit. 

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It was ten years ago on a night just like tonight. Why, tonight's the anniversary. Worst accident I ever seen.

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