The identity of the driver of the Mercury remains unknown, pending positive identification.

“The vehicle is registered to Nevada,” Roan said.

The Mercury first struck a 1999 Ford sports utility vehicle with Miguel and Alicia Montoto, 55 and 58 respectively, of San Marcos, then the driver swerved and overcorrected to the left and struck a 2003 International truck, driven by Faruk Hidic of Ontario, Canada. The truck then pushed the Mercury into a 2005 Chrysler driven by Dennis Crowdis, 50, of Denton.

“All the vehicles then came to a rest and the Mercury and the semi caught fire,” Roan said.

The Montotos, Hidic and Crowdis were not injured the accident. Love County Medical Investigator John Miller pronounced the driver of the Mercury dead at the scene.

“When we got to the scene it was flames from the east side of the southbound side to the west side,” Thackerville Assistant Volunteer Fire Chief Steve Hendrickson said. “It was a wall of fire.”

Thackerville firefighters began to work on the car fire, while Marietta and Shady Dale Volunteer Fire Departments assisted with the semi-truck and tractor fire.

The semi-trailer, which was carrying office mail room equipment, was destroyed.

A different semi-truck and tanker accident started the long evening for emergency responders. At exit one on southbound Interstate 35, a semi-truck carrying a highly flammable alcohol base hit the cement dividing wall.

“The southbound kind of shut itself down when the semi lost one of its rear axles,” Hendrickson said. “Then we had to shut down the northbound because we had to isolate everything.”

Gainesville Fire Department also responded to assist at the accident.

“We were basically called for stand-by,” Gainesville Assistant Fire Chief Wally Cox said. “We supplied them with a special foam for alcohol fires that we carry.”

Love County, Okla., Sheriff’s Department contacted Cooke County requesting the Texas Department of Transportation’s assistance in diverting traffic from the closed interstate.

“It worked out well,” Bob Walker, TxDOT maintenance supervisor, said. “I don’t know of any wrecks or problems on the Texas side.”

Traffic headed northbound backed up past Gainesville to FM 1306 as TxDOT employees, Texas Highway Patrol troopers and Gainesville police officers diverted the traffic to U.S. Highway 82 east and then to U.S. 377 north.

“People were inconvenienced, but they weren’t overly agitated,” Walker said. “The police department got us some maps. We passed out maps to get people over to Whitesboro.”

After the alcohol was off loaded to a second tanker truck, Oklahoma authorities reopened the interstate about 10:30 p.m. The fatality accident occurred shortly thereafter.

Staff writer Jennifer Sicking may be contacted at jsicking@ntin.net.

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