An Arkansas State Trooper narrowly escaped serious injury this morning when the trailer of a commercial carrier jackknifed and struck the rear of an Arkansas State Police patrol car with a trooper inside the vehicle. The incident occurred about 9 AM along Interstate 40 west of Lonoke.
Using his patrol car emergency blue lights, Sergeant Chuck Lewis, a 25-year state police veteran, was attempting to warn westbound I-40 motorists of congested traffic ahead of his location. A vehicle crash with no injuries had begun to slow traffic 200 yards ahead of Sergeant Lewis, but traffic approaching the area was moving at speeds in excess of 50 to 60 miles per hour across ice covered traffic lanes.
Joe A. Barbosa, 54, of San Antonio, Texas, the driver of a tractor-trailer truck approaching the area, lost control of his vehicle as he began to brake, causing the trailer to jackknife and impact the rear of the patrol car occupied by Sergeant Lewis. The state police patrol car was spun into a tree line north of the interstate.
Barbosa regained control of the truck and trailer and left the scene of the crash, but was later apprehended in the North Little Rock area where he was charged with careless and prohibited driving and leaving the scene of a property damage crash. Barbosa was released and was given a Lonoke County court date to answer the charges.
Sergeant Lewis did not sustain any serious injuries. Barbosa was not injured.
The first crash that occurred shortly before 9 AM, along with the crash involving Sergeant Lewis began to cause multiple crashes in a slow chain reaction stretching east of the first crash scene by more than 30 miles.
State Troopers are reminding motorists to significantly reduce their vehicle speed while driving during the current weather conditions, double or triple the usual safe distance when following another vehicle, and use gentle repetitive brake control to slow their vehicle should an emergency stop become necessary. If you are involved in a property damage crash, if possible, move your vehicle off the highway and if it becomes necessary to exit the vehicle stay as far away from the roadway as practical.