Senior with mental challenges killed along highway

EAST MOUNTAIN, TX (KLTV) - By Courtney Lane - bio | email

EAST MOUNTAIN, TX (KLTV) - A 70-year-old Pittsburg man was hit and killed while working on a litter crew and, now, the 18-year-old driving the car must live with the tragedy.

The accident happened Tuesday around noon on Highway 300 in East Mountain. Police say it was about one mile north of FM 1844.

"It was a terrible, terrible scene," said East Mountain Police Chief Jeff Pearson.

Chief Pearson says Olen Ferguson was working with a litter crew that contracts with the Texas Department of Transportation. He says no safety regulations were broken but that Ferguson walked into oncoming traffic.

"[He] kind of went left, went right, left and right and really wasn't sure which way to go," said Pearson. "The driver wasn't sure which way to go either."

Behind the wheel was an 18-year-old male from Gilmer who, police say, did nothing wrong.

"He was visibly shaken," said Pearson.

"My heart goes out to the family, to the little guy that hit him," said Ferguson's daughter Betsy King.

Ferguson suffered from some mental disabilities. King says he was talking about retiring soon but was not the type to sit still.

"I worried about him some but my dad had other health problems," she said. "I always thought he would pass away of old age or something like that, not something as tragic as that."

She says though it was a dangerous job, it was his choice and the family does not blame anyone for what happened.

"He's 70 years old, he's getting hard of hearing, really hard of hearing and I just don't think his mind, I think, slips a little bit here and there and I think he just didn't see them," said King.

Despite his disabilities, Patty Lopez says Ferguson was constantly volunteering at their church and helping others. She says he will be remembered for his servant's heart.

"I'm sure he's rejoicing where he's at because, without a shadow of a doubt, I know he's in God's hands."

And, though it was a tragic end, King says they do have peace knowing he did not suffer.

"They said he was killed instantly and so that gives me comfort in knowing that he's with the Lord now and he's in a much better place."

King says one of her brothers also works with that crew and it is a blessing he was not with their dad Tuesday. Investigators say Ferguson and other crew members were trained to exercise caution.

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