A semi tractor-trailer truck loaded with truck tires plunged off an Interstate 40 overpass in Bushland, Texas, just west of Amarillo on the morning of Feb. 27, killing the driver and triggering a fire a fire that burned throughout the day.
Sergeant Cindy Barkley of the Texas Department of Safety confirmed that driver Arnold De La Rosa, 48, of Mission, Texas, died at the scene after crashing through guardrails on I-40 East and plummeting to the ground from an overpass about FM2381 / Bushland Road. The crash happened shortly after 9:30 a.m.
The truck landed between the eastbound and westbound lanes of Bushland Rd., bursting into flames on impact. The truck hit some of the cement pillars that support the overhead lanes of I-40, potentially causing structural damage.
According to the Amarillo Globe-News, the load of tires in the trailer fed the blaze and flames initially rose far above the I-40 bridge, charring the concrete and melting road signs on the structure.
No other vehicles were involved in the crash and there were no injuries beyond the truck driver.
The Globe-News reported that Potter County Fire and Rescue responders were assisted by crews from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Amarillo Fire Department, the Texas Department of Transportation (TexDot), and Amarillo Emergency Services.
Authorities shut down both lanes of I-40 around the crash site and set up detours to reroute interstate traffic. TexDot officials told the Globe-News that the interstate would remain closed at the Bushland Rd. overpass until engineers from Austin could inspect the bridge ad determine if it is structurally sound.
Authorities said the crash remains under investigation and they have not determined what caused Mr. De La Rosa to jump the guardrails. Some of the potential factors crash investigators look for evidence of are driver distraction, such as texting and driving or other use of a smartphone or electronic device; driver error; fatigue, which could cause the driver to fall asleep behind the wheel; health of the driver, especially some medical condition that could cause the driver to lose consciousness; drug or alcohol use; weather and road conditions; and mechanical or tire problems that could have caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
A GoFundMe page created a family member to help cover funeral expenses shows a picture of Mr. De La Rosa driving with the words “Keep Trucking All the Way to Heaven. We will miss you.”