Teen Killed; Jessica Pegues, Child Injured in Crash on TX-11 in Hopkins County
Hopkins County, TX -- April 4, 2022, a 15-year-old girl was killed in a three-vehicle collision on State Highway 11 in Hopkins County.
Authorities say the incident happened around 5:20 p.m. on Highway 11 near Farm to Market Road 69. Preliminary investigation suggests that 45-year-old Jessica Pegues was driving west on the highway in a Ford F-150 behind a second F-150 with a trailer driven by 48-year-old Wade Stuart. Reports indicate Pegues failed to control her pickup's speed for unknown reasons and crashed into the rear of Stuart's towed trailer. Her truck then veered into the eastbound lane and collided with a Chrysler Pacifica. After that impact the Ford rolled into the roadside ditch and caught fire.
Pegues and her two daughters were transported to an area hospital for treatment of serious injuries. Her 15-year-old daughter later died at the hospital. Stuart was unhurt and the Chrysler driver was treated and released at the scene.
The investigation is ongoing. No further information is available at this time.
Commentary on Jessica Pegues Accident on TX-11 in Hopkins County
It's always important to keep in mind how little information is generally available in preliminary news reports. Take the crash above for example: Folks will see that one driver rear-ended another and that'll be enough for them to assume she did something wrong. Police think she didn't control her speed at the time and some may assume that's more or less the final word on the matter. Of course it's possible--even common--for a driver error like that to lead to a collision like this one, but no one can or should just assume that's the whole story as the investigation continues.
Despite common misconceptions, rear-end collisions aren't automatically and without exception the fault of the rear driver. That's why it's so important to make sure authorities are thorough and consider all possible factors. That includes common issues like speeding, but will also consider less-obvious possibilities like the truck and trailer cutting off the victim or suddenly braking ahead of her. A thorough investigation will also consider relatively rare problems like a mechanical or brake failure in the victims' vehicle that kept it from stopping. I don't mean to imply I know something authorities don't, but long experience in this field has taught me the value of considering all potential explanations.
I've noticed over the years that police traffic investigators stick to a pretty strict "playbook" during their crash investigations. That can lead them to making some assumptions of their own when they see a rear-end collision like this, and if they land on an explanation they like they may not look much further. When that happens vital clues can slip through the cracks and reports incorrectly blame something like speeding or driver distraction, causing problems for a victim's loved ones if they want more answers. Are steps being taken here to ensure they get the whole story?