Riesel: Design of section of highway where deputy died to be reviewed

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RIESEL, Texas (KWTX) The Texas Department of Transportation will conduct a traffic engineering study of a two-mile section of northbound State Highway 6 south of Riesel where Falls County Deputy Matt Jones, 30, died and Riesel police Chief Danny Krumnow, 62, was seriously injured on Oct. 11 when a car that hydroplaned on the wet road struck them at the scene of an earlier accident.

A KWTX review of state data found that since 2010, there have been 28 crashes involving a total of 53 people on the two-mile section of northbound State Highway 6 where Jones and Krumnow were struck. (Photo by John Carroll)

Jones was laid to rest last Friday after a service attended by hundreds of family members, friends and law enforcement officers from across Texas and around the U.S.

Krumnow remains in the intensive care unit of Scott & White Medical Center in Temple and faces a long recovery.

"We expect to have some results in about two weeks as far is what we what we need to look at as far as the future of that roadway,” Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Ken Roberts said Wednesday.

"We take a look anytime there's a fatality. We take a look at what…may need to be done further down the road,” he said.

On Wednesday crews placed cones to close the right lane of the northbound highway for two miles leading up to the site of the deadly crash just past a large curve that goes over a hill headed into Riesel.

A KWTX review of state data found that since 2010, there have been 28 crashes involving a total of 53 people on the two-mile section of northbound State Highway 6 where Jones and Krumnow were struck.

Most of them occurred as drivers came out of the curve.

Three of the 28 were fatal and occurred in close proximity, including the one on Oct. 11 that claimed the deputy’s life.

"There are numerous hazards on our roadways,” Roberts said.

“Of course speed is always a factor, so all that comes into play. When we say there's a serious problem in a particular area we have to look at a lot of things."

Roberts says a sign may be placed ahead of the curve warning drivers of the danger, and the speed limit could be changed as well, but ultimately it will be up to engineers to decide what changes need to be made.

“A number of factors will be looked at (including) the curvature itself, the roadway (and) how the roadway reacts to the situation when we have inclement weather,” he said.

“All of those factors (and) of course the speed limit,” he said.

A Texas Department of Public Safety accident report released Tuesday detailed the Oct. 11 accident.

Jones and Krumnow had responded to an earlier accident on a rainy afternoon on Oct. 11 on northbound Highway 6 at County Road 109 south of Riesel involving a 2010 Nissan Versa, which was in a ditch on the east side of the highway.

A 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe, identified as a government vehicle registered to Falls County, was parked on the east shoulder of the road and the 27-year-old woman who was driving the Versa was sitting in the SUV with the Tahoe’s 40-year-old driver, who had evidently stopped to help.

Krumnow’s police unit was parked on the shoulder of the highway behind the Tahoe and Jones’ unit was parked behind Krumnow’s.

The two officers were outside of their units and standing behind the Tahoe when a northbound 2006 Mazda 3 that the report says was “traveling at an unsafe speed” hit the long curve on the wet highway, the report says.

The Mazda’s 21-year-old driver “took faulty evasive action, lost control and failed to drive in a single line,” the report says.

The Mazda slid across the inside and outside lanes and the shoulder and off the east side of the highway where it struck Krumnow and Jones and then hit the Versa, the report says.

Krumnow ended up pinned beneath the 2016 Tahoe.

Jones died at the scene.

Krumnow was flown to Scott & White in Temple and the driver of the Mazda was taken by ambulance to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center in Waco with unspecified injuries.

Krumnow, who suffered a lacerated spleen, a broken back, a dislocated knee, a collapsed lung and nine broken ribs, is making "great progress" according to the latest update from Riesel police.

“He is now completely off the breathing machine and breathing with an oxygen mask. As for now no surgeries are scheduled,” Sgt. Ryan Dieterich wrote in the Facebook post.

Krumnow is now “able to say some words and recognize close family and friends,” Dieterich wrote.

“We are on the right path to recovery, it will just be a lengthy one.”

A GoFundMe account has been created for Krumnow and the 100 Club Heart of Texas, a nonprofit formed to help families of fallen first responders, is accepting donations for both Krumnow and for Jones’ family, which may be made online, to an account set up at any First National Bank of Central Texas branch, or by mail to the 100 Club Heart of Texas, PO Box 21990, Waco, TX 76702-1990.