Thursday Accident Hits Close to Home For The Midland County Sheriff's Office

by Anayeli Ruiz
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND COUNTY - Thursday's deadly accident on Highway 349 is just the latest in a deadly string of accidents we've seen in the Basin. Most of them are being attributed to the increased traffic in the area.

At 7 a.m. Thursday morning, officers were dispatched to an accident on Highway 349. When they arrived, they found one person with a broken pelvis and another person dead. The man who died was identified as 25-year-old Jose Rolando Rodriguez, who was a Midland County jailer.

"From what we can determine, he was traveling south on Highway 349, he went to pass a vehicle, some other vehicles came up in front of him, he went to the bar ditch on the left to avoid the vehicle. He lost control and began sliding sideways and slid into the path of an oncoming vehicle. He was dead on impact," Midland County Sheriff, Gary Painter, said.

This particular accident hit close to home for the Sheriffs Office as they lost one of their fellow co-workers.

"Jose was a unique individual. He was the kind of guy that could get along with anybody, didn't have an enemy in the world. He was just a great guy," Painter said.

These kind of accidents are growing a trend here. With a growing community, the Midland County Sheriffs Office says they have seen a spike in wrecks all over the County.

"Probably the biggest contributor is congestion. The number of people that are on the highway at any given time especially during rush hour traffic. We didn't use to have rush hour traffic," Painter said.

For those wondering if the high speed limit has anything to do with the recent increase in accidents, NewsWest 9 spoke with the Texas Department of Transportation and they said it's actually not a major factor.

"What the experts say that causes the wrecks is different speeds on the same road, somebody going 50 somebody, going 80 somebody going 65," Gene Powell with TXDOT, said.

On Thursday, flags at the Midland County Sheriff's Office flew at half staff in honor of their worker who died in the accident.

Sheriff's officials hope that drivers will see this and be more careful when they drive.

"Traffic is bad and people need to really need to pay attention. You can't be on the phone or talking to your kids. You have to be paying attention or you can lose your life," Painter said.

This has been third deadly accident on Highway 349 in past few months. TXDOT says they do a study on every deadly accident that happens in the area to see what they can do to help prevent the accidents.