On Wednesday, January 19, 2022, around 7:10 p.m., Cleveland Police Officer Rodriguez was dispatched to a disabled car on top of the San Jacinto River Bridge on US 59 south of town. The roadway was wet, and it was raining.
After making contact with the driver of the disabled car, Rodriguez returned to her patrol unit with all of her emergency lights on to await assistance for the disabled car. A family member of the motorist arrived and started to fill the car with fuel when suddenly a southbound tractor-trailer pulling a loaded, flat-bed trailer struck the patrol unit, sideswiping it with Officer Rodriguez sitting inside.
The 18-wheeler never stopped after crashing into the patrol unit.
Thankfully Officer Rodriguez was not injured nor was the female who was standing beside the passenger side of the patrol unit.
“When I received the call, my heart immediately started to race and my mind flashed back to my first FTO-Field Training Officer Jesse ‘Earl’ McFarland for whom the bridge is named,” said Cleveland Police Chief Darrel Broussard. “Earl was escorting a group of military veterans who were walking to Houston. Earl gave the ultimate sacrifice and lost his life after being hit from behind by an 18-wheeler on the same bridge.”
Authorities are hoping to find the driver of the 18-wheeler. Broussard said there should be damages to the right front fender and bumper of the tractor-trailer and damages to the flatbed trailer as well.
“We want to thank the Texas Department of Public Safety, Cleveland Fire Department, Allegiances EMS and local tow-truck operators for their quick response,” Broussard said.
Anyone with information about the fleeing 18-wheeler or its driver is asked to call Cleveland Police Department at 281-592-2622 or Crime Stoppers at 936-539-7867. All tips will remain anonymous.