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Gonzales Inquirer

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Wild, woolly weekend

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Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 8:00 am

2 separate incidents involving 18-wheelers close U.S. highways, 2 men airlifted following knife fight at Nixon’s La Consentida bar

It was a wild and woolly weekend across Gonzales County, as two separate incidents involving 18-wheeler fuel tankers closed two U.S. highways in the southern and central part of the county, a knife fight at a bar resulted in two men being airlifted from Nixon and a one-vehicle wreck between Waelder and Flatonia closed a bridge on a U.S. highway in the northern part of the county.

18-wheelers collide on U.S. Highway 87

Two 18-wheelers, at least one of them a fuel tanker, collided just east of Nixon on U.S. Highway 87 about 8:20 p.m. Friday, overturning a tanker and causing a fuel leak that closed the main east-west thoroughfare in the southern part of the county for almost 12 hours.

When authorities from Gonzales Fire Department, Nixon Fire Department and Gonzales County Sheriff’s Office arrived and assessed the scene, Highway 87 was closed at 8:35 p.m. from Nixon to Smiley. When a fuel leak was discovered on the overturned tanker, a hazmat unit was dispatched.

Officials at the scene reported that the overturned tanker was transporting 6,000 gallons of gasoline and 2,000 gallons of diesel. Another tanker was called in to offload the fuel before crews could begin the process of righting the 18-wheeler.

As the night wore on and it was apparent the highway would not soon be reopened, Victoria ISD was contacted to alert school officials of the mishap and recommend they consider alternate routes for buses returning from high school football games. (Victoria East hosted San Antonio Brackenridge and South San Antonio hosted Victoria West in games played Friday night, and Highway 87 was on a direct route for the teams returning home.)

Crews labored the entire night clearing the scene, and Highway 87 was reopened at 8 a.m. Saturday.

There were no reports of injuries. Officials at the Gonzales County Sheriff’s Office and the Gonzales Fire Department were unable to provide information about the accident as of press time.

18-wheeler fire closes U.S. Highway 183

A loud boom, believed to be from an explosion involving an 18-wheeler, rattled windows and jarred westside Gonzales residents just after 11 p.m. Saturday, and a fire that threatened a tanker closed U.S. Highway 183 as Gonzales firefighters quickly doused the flames to avert a disaster.

The concussion from the explosion rocked houses in the area of Water (Highway 183) and Wallace Streets, and produced a boom that could be heard more than ½ mile away.

Gonzales police assisted firefighters by cordoning off the busy north-south highway, turning back traffic as the tanker was drenched with water to not only extinguish the blaze but to prevent a flare up that could have caused a fireball in the predominately residential neighborhood.

Initial reports were that the 18-wheeler was engulfed in flames, but witnesses said the fire was small and firefighters worked quickly to control the blaze. Preliminary reports also indicated that the driver of the truck was not immediately available when authorities arrived at the scene.

According to Gonzales Police Capt. Allen Taylor, preliminary indications are that the fire was due to the rear brakes on the trailer locking up.

While some unsubstantiated reports within minutes of the fire coming under control were that one or two of the trailer tires had blown, those living within a block of the scene dismissed such reports, contending that blowouts from tires don’t make a sound and accompanying concussion – which shook houses, rattled windows and jarred furniture – as large as what residents experienced.

Highway 183 was closed as firefighters worked to contain the incident. Once the scene was stabilized, some traffic was allowed to creep past with limited access, but officials again closed the highway and rerouted traffic onto St. Joseph Street.

Another tanker was dispatched to off-load the fuel before the damaged 18-wheeler could be moved from the scene.

Gonzales County EMS established a command post at St. Joseph and Wallace and were available in the event of a medical emergency, but there were no reported injuries and medical personnel were never summoned to the scene.

Taylor said no citations were issued as a result of the mishap.

2 airlifted after barroom knife fight

Two men were airlifted to San Antonio University Hospital in the aftermath of a fight involving four men and at least one knife just before midnight Saturday at the La Consentida Bar, 209 W. Central Avenue in Nixon.

As officials arrived on the scene, there were reports that at least one man had been slashed on the face, and additional emergency personnel was requested along with an air ambulance helicopter.

Two Gonzales County EMS units were initially dispatched to the night spot, but within minutes, a request for additional help was issued for Nixon Police Department, Nixon Fire Department, Gonzales County Sheriff’s Office and a medical helicopter. But before AirLIFE arrived in Nixon, a second helicopter was dispatched.

Officials at the scene advised air ambulance personnel that the two men to be transported each weighed 150-160 lbs. – well within the helicopter’s capacity. It is not known why a second helicopter was launched, but authorities may have determined that transporting the two men in the same helicopter presented a foreseeable problem.

The first helicopter on the scene lifted off with its patient at 1:25 a.m., just as the second helicopter was landing to transport the other man.

Nixon Police Chief Chris Almaguer confirmed that the two men taken by AirLIFE were both Hispanic.

According to a report filed by Officer Jimmy Loer, who was the only Nixon police officer at the scene, Almaguer said the altercation was a two-on-two fight, but that information is still limited. As part of the continuing investigation into the incident, Almaguer left midday Monday for San Antonio to interview the two victims.

The identities of the men and their medical condition were not known by press time.

One-vehicle wreck closes U.S. 90 bridge

As emergency crews were responding to the Nixon barroom fight in the southwestern part of Gonzales County, a one-vehicle accident in the northeastern part of the county closed a bridge on U.S. Highway 90 between Waelder and Flatonia.

No injuries were reported in the wreck that occurred about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, and no official report was available by press time.

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