A head-on accident on Thursday, Aug. 25, has claimed the life of two brothers and seriously injured another driver, all from the Beaumont area, according to Sgt. Rob Willoughby, supervisor of the Liberty County office of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The accident took place at 12:23 p.m. on US 90 about a mile west of Devers in Southeast Liberty County. A westbound 2013 Dodge Avenger attempted to pass a Nissan Murano and collided head-on in the eastbound lane of travel. The driver of the Avenger, 31-year-old Waymon Smith, and his brother, Jaron Smith, 28, were both killed.
The driver of the Nissan Murano, Kimberly Gary, 52, of Beaumont, was talking to medics and first responders after the crash and is expected to survive, Willoughby said. The seriousness of her injuries, however, required that she be airlifted by Life Flight to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.
Willoughby said that neither of the decedents was wearing a seatbelt, which likely contributed to their deaths.
“There was damage to the driver compartment but it didn’t appear to be damage that would result in death,” he said.
This is the 12th DPS-investigated fatality accident in Liberty County this year, resulting in 15 deaths.
“That is not taking into account fatal accidents that occurred in cities that were investigated by city agencies,” Willoughby said. “We had 16 DPS-investigated fatality accidents in Liberty County last year and we still have four months left in 2022.”
All of the 12 fatality accidents were avoidable and the result of driver error and inattention, or not wearing seatbelts.
“It is very frustrating. A lot of people think it’s better to not wear a safety belt in the event of their car running into water or catching on fire, but in my 20 years of law enforcement, I have seen far more people die from not wearing a seat belt than from wearing one. So many of these accidents are avoidable and caused by people driving too fast, texting and not paying attention. Whatever you think is so important that you need to text or speed to save a couple of minutes is not worth it. Please don’t take the risk,” Willoughby said.
The accident is being investigated by Trooper Corey Prantil. Willoughby and DPS Corp. Nathaniel Godfrey assisted in the investigation. A DPS drone operated by Trooper Benjamin Polanski with the DPS office in New Caney was used to scale the accident scene.
According to Willoughby, the next of kin of the deceased victims has been notified.