Bonita resident, 71, was heading to Kansas when killed on I-8

August 29, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

The 71-year-old Bonita woman who died in an Interstate 8 traffic accident Tuesday morning was heading to Kansas to visit family.

According to county Deputy Coroner Rick Williams, the woman, Betty June Austin, was headed east for the Midwest with her husband, James Mervin Austin, 66, when a truck tractor pulling a pair of dirt and gravel trailers jackknifed across the length of I-8 near the Fourth Street off-ramp.

The Austin's vehicle, a pickup, slammed into the axle connecting the first trailer with the tractor.

Williams said an ambulance was called at 8:28 a.m. He said the Austins were both wearing seat belts.

Betty June Austin, who had been in the passenger seat, was pronounced dead at 8:50 a.m.

Lee Havens, the owner of the rig, said, "This is very rare. We haven't had an accident in several years."

Havens said the truck was coming from an Ocotillo gravel pit on its way to El Centro.


James Austin and the driver of the big rig, Hector Manuel Jacques, 25, received minor injuries and were treated at El Centro Regional Medical Center.

According to a California Highway Patrol press release, Jacques allowed his rig to run off the road and onto the south dirt shoulder.

When he attempted to turn left back onto the interstate, the truck and first trailer overturned.

The Austins were traveling in the fast lane before they collided with the axle of the first trailer.

The pickup was totaled.

The California Highway Patrol is requesting that anyone who witnessed the collision contact Officer Richard Byrd at 482-2550.

The El Centro Fire Department is looking for the Austins' dog, Blue, who disappeared after the accident.

According to Paramedic James Payne, the dog is an older male black Chow, weighing around 75-80 pounds.

Anyone who has seen Blue should call 337-4530.

Payne said the Austins were taking Blue on the trip to Kansas but the dog couldn't be found in the aftermath of the accident.

Austin was flown to a San Diego hospital Tuesday for treatment of shoulder and internal injuries, Payne said.

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