Fiery head-on 18-wheeler crash closed area highway for 14 hours

This photo was taken about two minutes after the fiery crash north of Hico. (Photo courtesy of Terry Strickland)
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HICO, Texas (KWTX) A fiery head-on 18-wheeler crash that claimed the lives of the two truck drivers closed down a stretch of U.S. Highway 81 north of Hico for 14 hours Wednesday.

The Texas Department of Public Safety identified the victims as James Crabtree, 33, of San Antonio and Ronald Ross, 59, of Millsap.

They both died at the scene, DPS Sgt. David Roberts said in a press release.

Crabtree was driving a 2019 Volvo 18-wheeler north on the highway at around 9 a.m. Wednesday when his rig crossed into the southbound lane and collided head-on with the 2015 Freightliner that Ross was driving, Roberts said.

The force of the collision caused both trucks to burst into flames.

A third rig, a 2011 Mack 18-wheeler, driven by Elmer Saling, 66, of Lawn, was behind the Freightliner.

Saling took evasive action, but was unable to avoid hitting the other two trucks, Roberts said.

He was not injured.

Highway 281 was closed in the area of the crash until around 11 p.m. Wednesday.

At least two are feared dead after the fiery crash. (Photo courtesy of Kennith Lovell)