Inattentive drivers contributing to increase in wrecks at SH 29, Stonewall

Liberty Hill police say a number of circumstances could be contributing to an increase in collisions in recent weeks near the intersection of State Highway 29 and Stonewall Blvd.

Within the first 10 days of December,  local police responded to three collisions there — the latest one on Dec. 9.

“For the most part, I think it’s driver inattention,” said Liberty Hill Police Chief Randy Williams.

He speculated that drivers traveling westbound on Hwy 29 were frustrated earlier this month when construction at Seward Junction reduced northbound traffic on U.S. Highway 183 to one lane creating long delays for those heading to Liberty Hill or points further west on Hwy 29.

Most were rear-end collisions in the westbound lanes of Hwy 29.

“By the time they turn onto 29 (from Hwy 183), it seems like open space and their subconscious doesn’t recognize any danger,” Williams said.

In the collisions where speed was a factor, there were injuries that required ambulance transport.

“For a T-intersection, we have a lot more (wrecks) than we should,” Williams said. “But, I don’t think the problem is with the intersection. I think driver inattention is primarily to blame.”

He said this time of year, fog and wet weather are contributing factors in many collisions on Hwy 29.

And on clear days, vehicles traveling eastbound during early morning hours are often blinded by the sun.

Police say Kaya Alley, 18, of Liberty Hill was travelling too fast on Dec. 9 when she slammed into the back of a vehicle stopped about 200 feet behind a red traffic light in the westbound lane of SH 29 at Stonewall. Dense fog about 9:15 a.m. was a contributing cause. Miss Alley was transported to an area hospital, but police say the two occupants of the vehicle she hit were not injured.

Two days earlier, another rear-end collision occurred at the same intersection. No injuries were reported, but this time the driver was driving while intoxicated, Williams said.

Rodney Eugene Lewis, 57, of Liberty Hill, was charged with driving while intoxicated and taken to the Williamson County Jail. He posted a $1,000 surety misdemeanor bond and was released the following day.

On Dec. 2, it was a similar rear-end collision scenario involving another Liberty Hill driver. Gertrude Pinon Acupan, 59, of Liberty Hill rear-ended a vehicle from Bertram. The collision occurred in the westbound lanes.

In October, Ashley Naticchioni, 18, of Liberty Hill was driving too fast when she rear-ended a vehicle stopped at the traffic light on Stonewall, police say. She was seriously injured.

Williams said he was surprised that so many of the wrecks in the area involve Liberty Hill drivers who should be familiar with the conditions there.

As the number of vehicles passing through Liberty Hill continues to increase, he urged local drivers to be more alert to traffic and changing weather conditions. Drivers are better equipped to react at reduced speeds, he said.