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Death of Chihuahuas groundskeeper a reminder of freeway dangers

El Paso police issue warning to drivers

Death of Chihuahuas groundskeeper a reminder of freeway dang

EL PASO, Texas - The holiday rush coupled with construction along I-10 has made for a very busy, congested and sometimes dangerous roadway.

Nathan William Jones, the head grounds keeper for the El Paso Chihuahuas, died as a result of injuries sustained in a traffic collision Nov. 29, police said.

Jones, 24, was involved in a collision at I-10 West and Schuster at about 6:46 p.m.

Jones and the driver of the other vehicle involved stopped on the on ramp and were exchanging information. Jones was standing behind his vehicle and was struck by a truck pinning him against his car, police said.

EMS crews transported Jones to University Medical Center with serious injuries. He died Tuesday.

Eight years ago, Chris Longoria was driving to a hospital where his dad was about to have open heart surgery. Suddenly, he had a flat tire. His decision not to exit the freeway, rather pull over, would change his life forever.

"I was fixing a tire, and I was on the very last nut, and the last thing I heard was the screeching of the tires. The next thing I remember I was waking up on the side of the freeway," Longoria said. "I knew I was in bad shape. The bone was coming out of my left leg."

Longoria said it was a distracted driver who hit him, leaving him in a wheel chair for nearly six months.

During a drive along I-10 in west El Paso with El Paso Sergeant Robert Gomez, it didn't take long to spot a number of cars pulled off on the side of Interstate 10. According to Gomez, drivers with a flat tire or car trouble should not try to make the repairs on the freeway.

"Just get off, we know that flat tires get damaged, a rim, but we are really talking about a person's safety. A  rim can be replaced, a person's life cannot," Gomez said. "If you are in the one of the construction areas that does not have a shoulder or emergency lane, we advise people to stay in their vehicle and call police and let us help you."

Police recommend drivers put on their hazard lights and call 911 before making any other calls.

Longoria knows he is lucky to be alive and hopes other will earn from his painful experience. 

"It's something I will remember forever. and with the injuries to my knees and stuff, it's something that is going to be there forever," Longoria said.

The El Paso Police Department offers these safety tips for drivers.

If your car stops in a lane and is undriveable, drivers are asked to stay in their vehicle with their seat belt on, emergency flashers on and call police.

If your car can just make it to a shoulder or emergency lane, drivers should turn on their flashers, raise a vehicle's hood, use flares and call 911.

If your car is driveable, get off the freeway at the first exit.  Police recommend never attempting to change a tire on a major roadway, highway or freeway. Never attempt to cross a major roadway, highway or freeway.

Lock all doors and windows while waiting for help to arrive.


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