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Jesus G. Zapata and Felix Vargas Killed in I-20 Multi-Vehicle Accidents

Two multi-vehicle collisions on Interstate 20 Monday night killed two, injured three people.

DPS stated that 21-year-old Felix Vargas and 49-year-old Jesus G. Zapata, both from Odessa, were killed in the crash. They stated that 1 victim is currently in serious condition.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said a dust storm caused limited visibility for drivers, causing the 10- and 7-vehicle pileup on both the east and westbound lanes of Interstate 20 between Midland and Odessa. The injuries and deaths happened in the westbound accident.

Felix Vargas, 21, and construction worker Jesus G. Zapata, 49, died in the accident. Noel Suchil and Rosa Maria Ironside, 47, both of Midland; and Amanda Ruth Shaw, 29, of Odessa, were transported to Midland Memorial Hospital with injuries.

“I was able to open the car door and get out,” Shaw said. “The whole front and rear (of the Corolla) were squished. I was lucky to get away.”

The interstate was closed in both directions from about 7 p.m. Monday until 6 a.m. Tuesday between East Loop 338 in Odessa and FM 1788 in Midland County.

The U.S. National Weather Service office in Midland posted advice on their Facebook page in light of possible dust storms Tuesday evening.

“If you are driving and encounter blowing dust on the roadways, do not drive into the dust storm, if possible,” the post stated.

If it’s not possible, however, “do not stop your vehicle in the middle of the road. Instead, try to pull over to the side of the road as far as possible, (stop) your car, put your emergency brake on, and be sure to turn your car lights off. Other drivers may mistake your vehicle’s lights as a guide for the roadway and drive into your vehicle.”

DPS spokeswoman Trooper Molly Hernandez said until the full report is turned in, they can’t say exactly what could have been done differently to prevent the chain-reaction accidents.

Hernandez said although it is good to slow down in such an accident, hitting the brakes is the last thing you want to do.

“The first thing that everybody should do is reduce their speed,” Hernandez said. “If at all possible, don’t hit your brakes on the interstate; pull over.”

James Beauchamp, president of the Midland Odessa Transportation Alliance, said hitting the brakes causes a chain reaction; even if the driver is able to avoid the initial accident, collateral collisions are possible.

The best thing to do, Beauchamp said, was to keep a safe distance between other vehicles to allow for time if an accident does happen.

Original story: http://www.oaoa.com/articles/released-91276-monday-names.html