UPDATE: Man killed in 18 wheeler and SUV crash identified

UPDATE 03-13-09 03:32pm: The victim killed in a fiery crash near Gladewater has been identified. 58-year-old Stephen Kraker of Tulsa, Oklahoma was killed when, according to investigators, he drifted over into oncoming traffic and hit the 18-wheeler head-on.

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

UPSHUR COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - One person was killed Thursday afternoon in a firey accident. An 18 wheeler crashed into an SUV this afternoon around 1:30 on Highway 271 just north of Gladewater.

For neighbors near the accident, it sounded like a storm hit.

"I heard a loud [noise], sounded like thunder and when I looked out the window, I saw stuff flying in the air," said Melissa Knobles.

"I called 9-1-1 and while I was talking to the 9-1-1 operator it just kept exploding, just explosions," Rainy Adams described the scene.

Investigators say when the 18-wheeler and SUV collided, with the SUV bursting into flames on impact killing the driver.

"The SUV was fully involved in flames," said Gladewater Police Chief Farrell Alexander.

Gladewater police and emergency crews rushed to the scene. The truck driver escaped injury.

"It was just flames and I saw the truck driver run the opposite way," said Adams. "There was several explosions over there."

The fire kept spreading and neighbors were worried about the truck exploding.

"We really did think it was going to catch on fire," said Knobles. "But they were able to extinguish the fire and keep the truck from being burned up."

The SUV was almost obliterated.

"We've had some auto theft experts looking trying to get vehicle identification numbers off of the SUV to determine the owner and go from there to find out who we have in the car," said Alexander.

We were told neither driver has been deemed at fault for the accident.