A 19-year-old cowboy from Ozona lost his life in Stephenville at the intersection of FM 8 and U.S. Highway 281 Thursday afternoon on the way to a rodeo in Jacksonville.
Zane Uvietta, who went by his stepfather's name of Coates, was ejected from his white Dodge pickup when he crashed into a Milk Transport Service eighteen-wheeler. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to Sgt. Robbie Rudder, Coates apparently failed to yield at the stop sign on FM 8 before entering traffic on the highway and did not appear to be wearing a seatbelt.
The milk truck was traveling southbound on the highway and Rudder said it looked like the driver took evasive action in an attempt to avoid the accident. Extensive black skid marks could be seen on the pavement. Still, the pickup plowed into the two rear axles of the trailer knocking the pickup's toolbox and tailgate completely off. The impact was so severe that debris was lying all over, including two of the pickup's air conditioning vents that were seen lying several yards away.
Officials at Milk Transport Service said the driver of the milk truck was Shane Muth, 36, and a resident of Millican. Muth fractured his sternum in three places as the impact hurled him into the steering wheel. He was transported to Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital for treatment.
Coates' lifelong friend, Dean Wadsworth, said the two graduated from high school together in 2006. Wadsworth had just spoken to Coates at noon — just a few hours before the accident. The two were making plans to attend a rodeo in Mesquite this weekend and the following week planned to attend Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming.
"We heard there was a white dually pickup in a wreck and heard it might be Zane," Wadsworth said. "The whole way we were holding our breath hoping it wasn't true."
Wadsworth said after arriving at the rodeo, the fear of his friend's death was confirmed.
"Just to tell you how many people knew him and liked him, I had 10 missed calls from our classmates in 40 minutes while I rode tonight," Wadsworth said. "He was just a natural talent at whatever he tried."
Wadsworth said Coates recently had a string of wins.
"He was just on fire," Wadsworth said. "He had just won three pro rodeos in a row in saddle bronc riding in Bandera, Helotes and Belton. He was riding exceptionally well."