Deadly crash under Interstate 20 in Longview, car hits stationary train

LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) - Saturday night just before midnight, 77 year old Nelda Cooper of Troup was driving westbound down interstate 20. As she was approaching the bridge at mile marker 595, she veered off the road, rolling down an embankment and into a stopped train.

Cooper's car bursted into flames as it hit one of the train's tankers. She would die in the fiery wreckage before crews could save her.

"The vehicle hit the tank car and bounced off," Jeff DeGraff, Union Pacific, said. "The size of these tank cars, and they were loaded, you know, they're extremely heavy so the vehicle took the brunt of the impact."

The tanker Cooper hit was carrying alcohol. Something Union Pacific says could have caused an explosion under Insterstate 20 if it would have been punctured.

"The tank car that the vehicle struck was carrying an alchool substance that is flammable, fortunately the tank car held up and there was no breech."

Union Pacific crews nearby were able to move the damaged tanker from the scene within minutes.

"We had a crew that was arriving pretty quickly there after that was able to pull it free and take that damaged car off," DeGraff said.

Now just a scene left hidden under Interstate 20 here a life was lost and an explosion prevented.

"She was very kind and gracious and if you knew her, she was someone you could have had an afternoon tea with," Cooper's neighbor said.

Investigators do not know what caused Cooper to veer off the road.

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