Henderson County Rescuers Recount Horrible Wreck - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/25/03 - Coffee City

Henderson County Rescuers Recount Horrible Wreck

Henderson County rescue workers have had to lean on each other to get through a tragic crash that happened over the weekend where two teens and a 21-year-old young man were killed. Judge Sue Tarrant released the names of the victims late Monday afternoon, they are 16-year-olds Jessica Elizabeth Lane from Point, and Amber Ray Payne of Emory, and 21-year-old Jeffrey Lowdermilk of Jacksonville.

Police suspect speeding and alcohol may have contributed to the deadly crash, but the judge says we won't know that until toxicology tests come back.

"15 years and I have seen a lot out here, but nothing quite like that," says Terry Clemmons, Coffee City firefighter.

The image of the Grand Am split in two has been a tough one for Coffee City volunteer firefighters, both veteran and rookies, to shake. "Well, it has been difficult because of the kids involved and their age," says Terry Clemmons, Coffee City firefighter.

"I have seen cars broke in half," says William E. Rash, Coffee City Firefighter. "But, this one was like torn in half like you take a rag in rip it down the middle."

"I have never seen anything like it it was just unbelievable. The amount of impact it took to rip that thing apart must have been tremendous," says James Lewis, Coffee City firefighter.

James Lewis had the difficult task of helping remove the bodies from the wreckage. For the father of two girls it was heartbreaking knowing two teenaged girls and someone's son wouldn't be returning home to their fathers.

"You know, the thought runs through my mind... that this could be my kids. Maybe not now, or in a year, but when they get to be driving age, they could make a decision that could put them in jeopardy like that. It's just not worth it."

Now, firefighters can only hope other East Texas teens will see this car or what's left of it and learn a lesson before it's too late.

"You can hope it never happens again, but it seems like teens don't want to listen... mixing alcohol, speed, and inexperience has a lot to do with it," says Rash.

Firefighters in Coffee City want what's left of the car to be shown at East Texas schools. They hope it will stop teens from speeding and drinking and driving.

Dana Dixon, reporting

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