Driver identified in fiery wreck

Published 11:56 am Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The driver of an 18-wheeler that crashed yesterday in Beaumont has been identified.

Samuel Lee Caldwell, 42, of Houston, a driver for D.W.F. Trucking out of Pearland, was killed after his 18-wheeler exploded around 12:35 p.m. on a service road near Eighth Street.

Next of kin has been notified and the crash is still under investigation. An autopsy has been ordered for Caldwell.

According to witnesses, Caldwell veered unexpectedly off the freeway, crossing the service road and slammed into pine trees at Ida Reed Park.

Beaumont Police officers reported that the cab exploded during the initial impact.

When officers arrived at the scene, the man was still trying to get out of the mangled cab when another smaller explosion occurred. The truck was engulfed in flames, according to officers at the scene, and it became impossible for the man to escape.

The fire and surrounding hot spots were eventually extinguished by the Beaumont Fire Department.

Caldwell was pronounced dead at the scene by Jefferson County Justice of the Peace Kenneth Dollinger.

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