Volunteer firefighter killed on I-35 was a survivor of 2013 West explosion

Truck driver “disregarded” traffic control measures and collided with fire engine and patrol units, DPS says
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 2:19 PM CDT
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WEST, Texas (KWTX) - Authorities are investigating a wreck on I-35 northbound near Tokio Road that claimed the life of a West firefighter and injured two DPS troopers.

West Mayor Tommy Muska identified the firefighter killed as Edward Hykel, who was injured in the April 17, 2013, explosion that decimated the northern McLennan County town. Muska said the 60-year-old Hykel was a volunteer firefighter for 16 years and worked in the city Public Works and Water Department.

“He was a valuable asset to the city of West and was a great employee,” Muska said. “I can’t say enough about his attitude about work and life. He just had a get-it-done attitude.”

Muska explained that the public should have the upmost respect for first responders considering they risk their lives each day to protect the public.

“You’d think going into a burning building is dangerous. Working I-35 is a whole lot more dangerous. People don’t take their time, people don’t respect a fire engine straddling the road,” said Muska.

The injuries suffered by the two DPS troopers were not life-threatening and both officers were released from the hospital Tuesday night, a DPS spokesman confirmed to KWTX.

At approximately 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28, DPS Troopers were providing traffic control along with the West Fire Department after a vehicle caught fire on I-35N near mile marker 354 in West.

DPS said the inside lane was shut down with traffic control devices, a fire truck, and two DPS patrol units.

That’s when, according to DPS, the driver of a Peterbilt tractor trailer traveling on the inside lane “disregarded the traffic control devices and struck the fire truck and two patrol units.”

DPS said the West firefighter was struck by a vehicle during the crash, but did not clarify exactly which vehicle struck the firefighter.

The West firefighter was transported to Baylor Scott and White in critical condition and later pronounced dead.

The two troopers were also transported to the Baylor Scott and White for medical treatment.

DPS did not say whether the truck driver will be charged. The investigation is ongoing.