Ice Transforms U.S. 277 Into The Highway of Death this Weekend
U.S. Highway 277 and ice claimed the lives of two over the weekend south of San Angelo near Eldorado.
Friday evening, San Angelo EMS was called to meet a Schleicher County ambulance at around 9:50 p.m. to transfer a patient for transport to one of San Angelo’s hospitals. According to The Eldorado Success newspaper, Jonathan Cueller, 41, a construction worker from Del Rio was killed in a two-vehicle accident. He was pronounced dead at Shannon Medical Center. His daughter, nine-year-old Angela Cuellar was transported to Shannon as well with what the Success terms as “incapacitating” injuries. Levona Muchelle Swindle, 34, of Eldorado was also transported to Shannon. Children with minor injuries, Josephine Lloyd, 12, and Esmerelda Hill, 14, were taken to the hospital in Eldorado.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), Cuellar was traveling north on U.S. 277 when he lost control of his 1999 Ford F-150 pickup, spinning clockwise into oncoming traffic. He collided with a southbound 2008 Dodge Durango SUV driven by Swindle.
As the U.S. 277 news broke on the police scanner, San Angelo EMS were taxed with multiple calls, including one to the Sands Motel on N. Chadbourne where a female in her 20s was found unconscious. There were additional calls for ambulances all over the city, including one for helping the elderly in the cold weather, and one mother distraught over an earlier notice that her daughter had died.
A request was made for two ambulances to rush to the Tom Green-Schleicher County line. Dispatch held back one ambulance, declaring, “I need at least one ambulance for coverage of San Angelo.”
Saturday morning, Deborah Cruz Lozano, a nurse assigned to the Schleicher County Hospital died in a one-vehicle accident on U.S. 277 crossing the bridge over Indian Draw, according to the Success.
She was driving a 2008 Dodge Cavalier and reportedly not wearing a seatbelt. Lozano was transported to San Angelo Community Medical Center where she was pronounced dead, according to the DPS.
U.S. 277 south of San Angelo has been the scene of numerous accidents recently. The most tragic was last year when two Christoval High School students were killed when a tractor-trailer collided with their SUV as the children turned on to the highway from a side road just north of Christoval. The weather was not a factor in that accident.
The most recent accidents this year before this weekend’s on U.S. 277 were in June 2013. A San Angelo man suffered non-life-threatening injuries at the intersection of Country Club Road, and in Comanche County, a driver crashed when he was distracted by a cell phone.
San Angelo Police reported 12 traffic accidents within the city limits during Friday’s night shift. A few more were reported Saturday night. Loop 306 turned into an ice rink of black ice Saturday night as the temperature dropped well below freezing with rain and freezing rain. No traffic fatalities were reported within the San Angelo city limits.