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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Three illegals among victims of U.S. 285 crash

Staff Writer

Three illegal aliens were among the five people killed early Monday morning in a four-vehicle collision on U.S. 285 south of Pecos, as investigators continue their work in uncovering the causes behind the crash that also killed a Kermit man and sent three other people to the hospital.

The accident occurred while traffic off Interstate 20 was being detoured onto U.S. 285 due to the collapse of the Salt Draw bridge near Toyah and the closing of State Highway 17 due to fears of flooding from a weekend of heavy storms across the area.

According to the DPS report, Melinda O’Brien, 43, of Spring, was driving northbound in a semi truck of undetermined make and model when the vehicle crossed the center lane and entered the southbound lane in an attempt to pass another semi.

In the process of passing the vehicle, O’Brien’s truck collided head on with a semi driven by Robert Walters, 37, of Garza County. O’Brien’s truck was severely damaged, so much so that the make and model could not be immediately determined, and came to rest with the cab facing towards the ground and with the trailer lying across both lanes of 285.

A 1999 F-250 driven by Paul Wesley Wilkins, 28, of Kermit then collided with the undercarriage of O’Brien’s trailer.

Wesley and O’Brien were pronounced dead at the scene by JP Jim Riley at 6:25 a.m., along with three of the passengers in O’Brien’s truck.

The US Border Patrol has announced that all six passengers in O’Brien’s truck were in the country illegally. In a press release sent out this morning, Bill Brooks with the US Border Patrol stated that all six of the Mexican citizens riding in the sleeper of O’Brien’s truck did not have permission to be in the country.

Three of the illegal immigrants, Marie Elena Martinez Garcia, 18, Hermilo Mayen Luna, 44, and Marco Antonio Camacho, age unknown, died at the scene. The other three were initially transported to Reeves County Hospital, treated and two were released to the custody of the Border Patrol, with the third still at RCH receiving medical attention for what the DPS report states as cuts and abrasions.

The injured passengers include, Jose Canizal Padilla, 28, was treated for chest injuries and released, Marcello Castillo Reyes, 23, was treated for shoulder injuries and released, and Jessica Guevara Cruz, 16, is still being held at RCH, but is listed in stable condition. The payload of Walter’s truck caused initial concern, due to the fact that he was carrying supplies for TX-DOT that included 100 gallons of herbicide. However, according to investigating trooper, Richard Crum, TX-DOT workers were able to clean up the chemical spill quickly and the highway was reopened by early Monday afternoon.

Turnout went well for RCH’s Health Fair

Staff Writer

A large crowd was on hand at the Reeves County Civic Center this past Saturday for the 17th Annual Reeves County Health Fair.

Exhibitors came from all over the area to offer their services, provide valuable information and offer some health care tests at reduced costs.

“We had about 65 exhibitors And about 900 to 1,000 people attended the health fair,” said Reeves County Hospital Public Relations and Marketing Director Venetta Seals. She added that 325 people also paid for the complete package of services offered at the Health Fair.

“We had a lot of people show up for the different tests, but the 325 individuals had the complete package that the hospital was offering,” said Seals. “That’s a great bargain, the test was only $20 and if done at another time it is very expensive.”

Seals said that 70 people had the bone density test, 93 had EKG’s and about 93 had the PSA’s. “That’s almost 100 people that had those two tests done,” said Seals. “That’s about the same number as last year.”

Juice Plus had a lot of people stop at their booth, according to Seals. “They received a lot of orders and plan to come back this weekend for the Lion’s Club Health Day at Maxey Park,” said Seals.

All the exhibitors seemed very happy and pleased with the outcome. “The ones that filled out the survey, were very pleased and only said that maybe more space was needed,” said Seals. “Some of the comments we received were, ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,’” she said.

Seals said that all the exhibitors stated that the health fair was a great event and that they enjoyed participating in the event.

Lion’s Club members served breakfast for the fair goers and ran out of bacon early that morning. The barbecue luncheon was a huge success as well, according to Seals.

Disaster declaration sought for Toyah

Staff Writer

Local relief agencies are working together to declare Toyah a state disaster area and bring relief to the residents who were displaced this weekend by floodwaters after an earthen dam broke on the northwest side of town.

“We had a meeting with the local emergency management coordinator, the state director, the Red Cross and the director of the Red Cross,” said Pecos Police Department Community Relations Officer Mike Balog.

He said that the group had put together all the paperwork to have Toyah declared a state disaster area and to start getting some relief for the residents.

“They are doing damage assessment today and we’ll know more after that,” said Balog. “Hopefully, they’ll meet all the criteria and it will be called,” he said.

The formal declaration would have to be made by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. A call to Perry’s office this morning seeking information on the status of the request was not returned by press time.

Balog said that the Red Cross had already declared the little town a disaster area and are now waiting to hear from the state.

Balog said that the police department had received a call at 2 a.m., Sunday about the residents being displaced and finding a place for them to stay.

“Before they even arrived, everything was prepared and set up here at the Civic Center,” he said.

Several pharmacists in town went to the civic center to provide their services., Balog added. “At times like this, people tend to forget to grab their medication and some start to not feel well,” he said.

Wal-Mart manager Olga Guebara opened the doors of the store, located across from the Civic Center at about 3 or 3:30 a.m. “She just said to come on in and get what we needed for these people,” said Balog. “She was outstanding, we are grateful to her.”

About 38 people spent Sunday night at the Civic Center and others drifted in and out during the day.

“Some of the people have left and gone to relatives, but we are keeping it open for those who want to come eat or need something,” said Balog. “We’ll keep it open until everyone has a home.”

Loretta and Ramona Campos of Toyah were among those evacuated from their homes in the early morning hours Sunday.

“We were fast asleep when they came and got us,” said Loretta Campos. Ramona Campos said that they do not know yet how their house looks or if it has sustained a lot of water damage.

The two sisters were staying at the Civic Center during the day on Monday to listen to the weather reports. “We spent the night at my cousin’s house, but are here during the day to listen to the reports,” she said.

Ramona Campos got teary-eyed when talking about leaving her pets behind during the evacuation. “They told me they could take care of themselves and for us just to come,” said Campos. “And then I saw one of them on Channel 9 News, looking scared and confused.”

“I’ve just been so worried about them and crying for them,” said Ramona. Campos is hoping to see her two little dogs, which are 10 years old. “They’ve been with us for so long, they’re very active and I don’t want to lose them,” she said. “One of my ex-students is going to check on them for us,” she said.

“We didn’t know there was a big flood, when we went to bed it was just raining really hard, but then it started coming down fast,” said Campos.

The flooding of Toyah happened in the 1940’s, according to Ramona. “I was a little girl and I still remember that we were evacuated that time also,” she said.

“The same thing happened with the bridge, that same bridge burst,” said Loretta, referring to the Salt Draw bridge that collapsed Sunday evening.

The sisters said that they don’t know how they will get back to Toyah, but Officer Balog said that the police , sheriff’s department and fire department would be providing transportation back to their little town.

“We’re very pleased with everyone. Pecos was really there for us,” said Ramona. “We’re very proud and thankful to everyone in Pecos, because they have shown how caring they are,” she said.

Balog said that he was extremely impressed with all the volunteers. “The Citizens Academy, DAT team, has been through disaster training and they were out here helping out throughout the weekend,” he said.

Emma and Joel Ramirez, Citizens Police Academy members, stayed throughout the night. “We just went to my sisters and took a shower and were back here to help,” said Emma Ramirez, who lives in Coyanosa.

“We had a lot of rain and some flooding, but we left Coyanosa to come down here to help,” said Ramirez. “Anytime we are needed we come here,” she said.

Officer Balog said that they had had a lot of help from the highway department, the local law enforcement agencies, the fire department, the ambulance crew and other volunteers. “There are some people who have just been here for us, helping out, doing anything we ask of them,” he said.

Good Friday benefit fish fry is scheduled

A fish fry will be held from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., Friday at the Saragosa Hall, at Sixth and Peach Streets.

The dinner will be $5 a plate and contain catfish fillets, hush puppies, French fries salad and tea. The catfish, hush puppies and French fries will be cooked in Canola oil.

Individuals can dine in or eat out and deliveries will be made on three or more plates. The event is sponsored by the Reeves County Juvenile Probation Department and proceeds go towards their Scholarship Fund.

Call 447-6901 to purchase tickets or to set up delivery.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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