A man identified as popular Christian author David Wilkerson, 69, of Tyler, was killed Wednesday afternoon in a two-vehicle crash that occurred just before the Neches River bridge and Anderson County line.
Debris from the head-on collision on U.S. 175 left a trail roughly a quarter-mile in length as scattered plywood temporarily blocked vehicles from crossing the bridge.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Tim Hatch, the white Infinity sedan driven by Wilkerson was traveling east toward Jacksonville, drifted into the opposite lane and collided with an oncoming tractor-trailer, which struck the sedan on the driver’s side.
Clothing, a blanket and a red plastic milk crate were scattered around the area below the bridge, where the semi came to rest after careening through a guard railing on the east-bound side.
Hatch said the driver of the tractor-trailer, 38-year-old Frederick Braggs of Beaumont, was taken to East Texas Medical Center in Jacksonville but appeared to be in good condition other than cuts and bruises.
The sedan’s passenger, identified as Wilkerson’s wife, 70-year-old Gwendolyn Wilkerson, was airlifted to ETMC Tyler hospital where she was treated for minor injuries.
Officers were not sure why the vehicle drifted into the path of the truck.
DPS employee Steve Tugwell said the bridge appeared to be in good condition, aside from the railing which was destroyed in the course of the accident.
Tim Monzingo of the Jacksonville Daily Progress contributed to this report.