The Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating two separate fatal accidents outside of Copperas Cove on Tuesday morning, Sgt. Bryan Washko said.
Washko said that the first one was a three-vehicle accident with one confirmed fatality early Tuesday on State Highway 9.
This wreck claimed the life of Harker Heights firefighter/emergency medical technician Cole Hagen Simmons, 23, who was off duty at the time.
DPS troopers determined that a 24-year-old female from Harker Heights was driving a 2021 Toyota RAV SUV eastbound on State Highway 9 at 7:27 a.m., and told troopers her vision became impaired by the rising sun, Washko said via email.
The woman failed to maintain the eastbound lane and crossed into the westbound lane. The Toyota crossed into the path of a 2014 Chevrolet sedan, driven by Simmons.
The Toyota struck the Chevrolet sedan, Washko said via email.
The impact caused the Chevrolet sedan to lose control and enter a “side skid” into the path of a 2013 Chrysler sedan, driven by a 55-year-old female from Kempner.
Investigators said the front of the Chrysler impacted the rear of the Chevrolet.
All three drivers were transported to AdventHealth-Central Texas in Killeen, where Simmons succumbed to his injuries. The other two female drivers sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
The crash is still under investigation.
Simmons had been with the department since August of this year.
“Cole made an immediate impression on all members of the department and we are grateful to have served with him,” Harker Heights Fire Chief Paul Sims said in a news release.
As a result of Simmons’ untimely death, Harker Heights Mayor Spencer Smith has ordered the city flag to fly at half-staff, effective immediately until the time of his interment, which is pending.
“This is a tragic loss for our department, especially for those who worked closest with him,” Smith said in a news release. “During his young life he blessed countless others while serving the citizens of Harker Heights. Let us keep his family, and each other, in our thoughts and prayers.”
Later in the morning, Washko said another fatal accident was reported near the Coryell County-Lampasas County line. Washko said Tuesday afternoon that it was a two-vehicle accident.
That accident was on FM 2657, south of the intersection with U.S. Highway 190.
Washko could not provide further details.