CBS19 Investigates: Deadly crash sparks concerns on FM 279

CBS19 Investigates: Fatal crash sparks concerns on FM 279

SMITH COUNTY - Nine days ago, a 21-year-old Murchison woman was killed in an accident on FM 279 in Smith County. According to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), she overcorrected and drove off the road, striking a tree and died instantly.

This is not the first time someone has died while driving on that same stretch of road.

CBS19 Investigates drove on the portion of FM 279 in Smith County where Austynne Roberts crashed and felt the need to overcorrect to keep from crossing the double yellow lines. 

"I know those roads like the back of my palm," said Phillip Roberts, Austynne's brother. "It doesn't mean that if I'm driving in the middle of the night, that I shouldn't have a big, yellow, reflective arrow telling me there's a dadgum corner is coming."

Phillip describes his sister as a beautiful girl who loves to help others.

"She had just a couple years ago gone on a mission trip to Haiti, and started to find herself there as someone who wanted to help people," he said. 

Comments started pouring onto our Facebook page after Austynne's deadly accident.
Brandy writes, "Speed or not...they need to fix it."

Aaron writes, "Have you driven on it? Have you felt how a vehicle behaves on this section of roadway?" 


According to TXDOT, there have been 148 crashes on FM 279 over the since 2007, which is roughly a 20 mile stretch of. Looking at the one mile stretch where Austynne crashed, there have been 14. Of those, two were deadly.

Looking at the curve where she crashed, there are remnants of car parts.

"Fenders and foam from under the dash and license plates and headlights," Phillip Roberts described. 

All parts are from different cars, leaving traces of multiple accidents in the same spot.

"The entire outside wood of that tree is pulled back, and the heartwood is showing. That means people have been running into this tree for a long time," he said. 

TXDOT spokesperson Kathi White said TXDOT is continuously revaluating FM 279.

"Not just the surface and the structure, but signage and structure gets evaluated," she said. 

Specifically on the Smith County side. White said last year TXDOT texturized the pavement to help with traction on the road.

Another big concern on this road is the speed limit, set at 60 mph. 

"If I can stop someone else from having a bad accident there, or you can by doing this story, that's what my hope is," Phillip Roberts said. 

After CBS19 Investigates looked into safety concerns on FM 279, TXDOT said they will conduct a speed survey to see if a lower speed limit is needed. 

If you have any road concerns, TXDOT officials ask the public to contact them directly. 
 

 

© 2017 KYTX-TV


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