Thirteen people, including at least two children, were killed when a Ford F-250 SuperCab pickup traveling on U.S. Highway 59 North left the road and crashed into trees near Berclair, Texas, a small town of 70 people about 170 miles southwest of Houston in Goliad County.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol, the pickup, designed for perhaps five passengers, was carrying 23 people when the collision occurred at about 7:00 PM Sunday evening. The combined weight of the passengers may have also exceeded the safe payload weight limit for the truck, which could have been a factor in the crash.
Initially, it was reported there were ten fatalities. It’s not clear whether two of the additional deaths happened on the scene or at area hospitals. The 13th victim died while undergoing treatment. Several of the injured, including the driver, are listed in critical condition.
Investigators were hampered by the fact some of the survivors spoke only Spanish. Border Patrol agents were dispatched to the scene to aid in the investigation.
In most cases, it’s a misdemeanor offense in Texas to carry persons under the age of 18 in an open pickup bed. The driver could also face charges of negligent homicide for the deaths that occurred while he was operating the overloaded truck.
Safety officials recommend that people, even adults, should not ride in the open bed of a pickup. In the case of children, the dangers are even greater as their smaller size and lower weight means they can be thrown from the bed during even during easily foreseeable driving conditions. Should circumstances dictate the need to carry passengers in the pickup bed, the addition of a cap is recommended to keep everyone inside the truck.