HOUSTON – A big rig driver was killed when he lost control and drove off a ramp over Highway 59 in northeast Houston.
The crash happened at the 610 North Loop at about 7 a.m. Wednesday, shutting down 59's northbound mainlanes for more than five hours.
Houston Police say the truck driver apparently took the curve too fast, causing the big rig to go over the concrete barrier. The truck, which was carrying liquor bottles, fell onto the lanes below and burst into the flames.
"You're probably looking at a good 20 or 30 feet, easy,” said HPD Capt. McPherson. "The truck was engulfed in flame and it was scattered all over 59 North.”
TxDOT tells me there were skid marks, and they believe the truck was already rolling when it went over the barrier.
"An officer says there actually was a witness and that he was in the far lane, and for some reason he switched lanes, lost control and came over the top,” McPherson said.
Despite initial firefighter reports that another vehicle was involved in the crash, police now say only the truck was involved.
The identity of the driver has not been released.
The freeway fully reopened at 12:30 p.m.
Photos: Big rig falls off freeway
A KHOU analysis of TxDOT data shows 175 crashes have happened this year at Highway 59 and 610. Nine of those involved commercial vehicles. Three of those crashes, all caused by unsafe lane changes, happened in the last month.
"You and I can take that same flyaway 8 ways to Sunday and be fine. But a truck is gonna have a higher center of gravity and so therefore has to take more care on these overpasses,” explained John Esparza, President of the Texas Trucking Association.
TxDOT told KHOU 11 News their crews routinely look at this flyover and other high traffic bridges, looking for anything that might be structurally off. And every two years, they do in-depth inspections with high-tech equipment to look for cracks. In both cases, they found nothing wrong at the 59 flyover.