The most recent fatality resulting from a traffic accident on Hwy. 67 east of Glen Rose was another Somervell County resident, 63-year-old James Edwin Colbough.
Colbough was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident at 5:51 p.m. Sunday by Justice of the Peace Scott May.
The 2008 Dodge Nitro sport utility vehicle Colbough was driving collided with a 2002 Ford F-250 pickup driven by Edgar Arreola-Espinoza, 28, of San Antonio, according to DPS Staff Sergeant Dub Gillum.
Gillum reported that the roadway was wet from rainfall at the time of the accident, which was called in to 911 at 5:23 p.m.
The Ford “began to hydroplane and crossed left of the center line,” Gillum stated in an email.
The driver and the passenger in the Ford were treated for minor injuries at the scene and released.
A Dec. 19 accident near that same location claimed the lives of Freda Williams, 59, of Glen Rose, and two of her grandsons, 7-year-old Parker Pool of Cleburne and 8-year-old Cooper Williams of Franklin.
Williams’ husband, James Williams, along with two of their other grandchildren, were hospitalized but survived. The DPS investigation found that hydroplaning was a factor in that crash as well, along with the other driver’s failure to control his vehicle’s speed.
Colbough’s widow, Delaine Rhodes, said that she suffered another previous family tragedy in that same vicinity in 2003 when her mother died as a result of a single-vehicle accident on Highway 67. That crash occurred east of the bridge that crosses the Brazos River.
FOUND ‘GOOD IN EVERYTHING’
Rhodes said she and Colbough married in March 2009.
Rhodes said that her husband was “always happy” and “always had a story to tell.”
“He would find good in everything, and the best in everybody,” Rhodes said, “He helped everyone. He never met a stranger. He talked to everybody like he knew them his whole life.”
He was born in Comanche, and grew up in Weatherford and Dublin. Colbough was owner and operator of Down to Earth Excavation of Glen Rose. Her family has owned and operated Rhodes Canoe Rentals for 44 years, she said.
Colbough’s two children are Zack Colbough, 32, of Stephenville, and Chance Colbough, 24, of Glen Rose. He had one step-daughter, Kalyndi Jackson, 25, of Iredell. Colbough’s siblings are his brother, Charlie Colbough, of Dublin, and Marquita Batson, of Stephenville.
Rhodes said her husband had spoken to Glen Rose ISD students about staying clear of illegal drugs as part of the D.A.R.E. program. Friends often called him by the nickname “Cabo” because of the way his last name is pronounced, she said.
The visitation for Colbough’s family and friends is set for 5-7 p.m. Saturday at Harrell Funeral Home in Dublin. His funeral service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, at Double N Cowboy Church in Dublin. Interment will be in Barbee Cemetery near Dublin.
A GoFundMe page (with James Colbough's name spelled Colbaugh) has been established online to raise money to help the family with burial expenses.
On Monday, Jan. 8 — the day after Colbough’s fatality — a work crew was dispatched by TxDOT to the area on Highway 67 just east of the intersection with Highway 144. The crew arrived with a milling machine to create grooves in the pavement’s surface intended to make the roadway’s surface in that area less dangerous in wet conditions.
“The area has been slick. We got reports of it being slick,” TxDOT spokesperson Natalie Galindo said when contacted by phone Monday after the work crew had begun its work. “They started today. They had to get the milling machine in. We don’t keep that machine on hand. Then they had some issues with the milling machine.”
Galindo explained that TxDOT does not keep a milling machine on hand, but had to put in a request for one to do the job. That request, she said, came the day after the Dec. 19 triple fatality.
“We put in a request for the machine the next day,” Galindo said. “We did put some message boards out, asking people to slow down.”
The speed limit in that area where the fatalities occurred is 65 mph. The DPS report following the triple fatality stated that the driver of the vehicle that crossed over the center line in that hydroplaning incident “was traveling at a speed that was unsafe for the conditions,” according to Gillum.
Galindo indicated that TxDOT’s action to give the roadway’s surface some “grooves” in specific trouble spots was set into motion after the agency heard about the problem from several officials.
“I know we heard from the (Somervell) county judge (Danny Chambers),” Galindo noted.
PHONE CALLS MADE
Chambers said he had been in contact with TxDOT by phone several times early Monday morning.
“I’m just glad they’re looking into it, and they’re doing whatever they can to help the situation,” Chambers said, noting that he was aware that DPS had been in communication with TxDOT about the problem as well. “DPS knows best. I hope they’re getting advice from DPS.”
Scott May, the Justice of the Peace who worked Sunday’s accident scene to record the death before the body was eventually turned over to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, said the crash occurred in the 5200 block of East Highway 67. The triple fatality in December was in the 5500 block, he said.
Somervell County’s other Justice of the Peace, Ronnie Webb, said on Monday that, “When Scott called and said he had another fatality, I called Judge Chambers. Then Judge Chambers called TxDOT.”
Webb said he thinks the problem with the roadway’s slick surface extends “basically from the (Squaw Valley) golf course (in the 2400 block) all the way to the (Johnson) county line. The tar surface is slick.”
May agreed, saying, “I just think that entire stretch of the highway all needs to be inspected. Something is wrong. It does look like the tar has risen. I do know that even when you walk on it, it’s slick.”
Numerous other collisions on Highway 67 in close proximity to Glen Rose have been reported in the last few months, although wet road conditions were not cited as causes in all of them.
A head-on collision on July 14 about five miles east of Glen Rose on Highway 67 took the life of Burleson resident Amanda Nelms. A Cleburne man who was the driver of the other vehicle is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, according to the DPS accident report.
A head-on collision on May 1 resulted in the death of former Glen Rose teacher Rhonda Cagle, 63. The driver of the vehicle involved in that collision, a 17-year-old Godley resident, is accused of criminally negligent homicide in that ongoing case.
On July 4, Cody Michael Mitcham, 26, of De Leon, and Timothy Edward Peppers, 51, of Hico, died in a head-on crash about four miles west of Glen Rose. On July 11, another two-vehicle head-on collision on Highway 67 resulted in eight people being transported to area hospitals. All eight survived.
Chambers said the Highway 67 corridor has far more traffic than it did just a few years ago, and the greater congestion is likely another cause of the increase in crashes in the stretch where it’s still just a two-lane highway.
“It’s (also) due to more traffic, I’m sure,” Chambers said. “It’s just an accumulation of things. It’s a very busy highway, and it was supposed to have four lanes many years ago.”
Galindo said the surface milling project was going to be targeted to specific problem spots on Highway 67 starting at the intersection with Highway 144, continuing for a stretch of five miles toward the east. She said the last time a surface project was done in that stretch of road was less than two years ago — the summer of 2016.
The milling work was scheduled to be completed by the end of the work day on Friday (Jan. 12). The highway was reduced to only one way during the project, with traffic in each direction having to take turns going through, directed by TxDOT workers.
Galindo urged drivers to reduce their driving speed in that area. Signs were posted instructing drivers to be prepared to stop when the traffic was let through from the other direction.