Hunter Wilkes, Alexis Wilkes Killed in Auto Accident on US-59 in Panola County, TX
Panola County, TX -- December 19, 2021, 21-year-olds Hunter and Alexis Wilkes were killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer on U.S. Highway 59 in Panola County.
Authorities say the incident happened around 9:55 a.m. on US-59 at the Business 59 intersection. Preliminary investigation suggests a Dodge Ram 3500 pickup truck driven by 79-year-old Jerry Galloway was towing a trailer north on Business 59 in the left lane. Nearby, Hunter Wilkes was driving a Mazda CX-5 SUV west on the exit ramp from the US-59 Loop. The two roads met at a light-controlled intersection.
Reports indicate Wilkes drove into the crossing and began to turn left onto southbound BU-59 when the Mazda was struck by the pickup truck. The truck pushed the SUV off the road to the northwest and both came to rest upright in the west bar ditch.
Hunter Wilkes and his passenger Alexis Wilkes suffered fatal injuries in the collision. An infant in the SUV reportedly sustained minor injuries. Jerry Galloway also received minor injuries.
Investigators noted they were unable to tell at the scene which vehicle failed to yield to the other.
No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Hunter and Alexis Wilkes Accident on US-59 in Panola County
Reports suggest investigators couldn't figure out which vehicle ran its light or had the right-of-way. They might be able to work it out with more time and further careful analysis, but I can't help but wonder if they might just throw their hands in the air and tell the involved parties to figure it out amongst themselves. There's no shortage of work for law enforcement traffic investigators, and without clear and specific evidence of who's in the wrong their patience and resources may run dry pretty quickly.
I don't mean to suggest police will drop the ball in Panola County, but long experience has taught me that if there's some question about who's to blame for a crash--particularly if one of the vehicles involved is commercial--then it's often in a victim or family's best interests to work with independent investigators that commit their training and time to finding the whole truth of the matter. Armed with accident reconstruction data, tire mark measurements, cell phone records, electronic control module (ECM) data, and many other sources of information, those professionals are more often than not able to create an accurate depiction of what occurred. Sometimes that just confirms authorities' preliminary theories, but when there are none as seems to be the case here they can often be the deciding factor in whether or not those affected are able to secure much-needed help.