September 16, 2020 621 PM
PRESIDIO COUNTY — In a dramatic scene on Monday afternoon, a TRAX medical-transport van washed away and rolled over in a creek during heavy rains. At the time, the van was transporting two people — a mother and baby — between Candelaria and Presidio.
The vehicle was performing a standard medical transport when “the creek surged rapidly and washed the vehicle away,” the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office, which responded to the incident, said on social media. But no one was still inside the vehicle when it rolled, and the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office says there were no injuries.
The vehicle had planned to transport a mother and infant from their home in Candelaria to a doctor’s appointment in Presidio, Tita Nuñez, the local TRAX transportation director, said. On his way to Candelaria, the driver was able to cross a small creek, Nuñez said.
“It had been raining, but he was able to cross,” she said. “There was no water [in the creek] or anything.”
On the way back to Presidio, though, the van got stuck in traffic trying to cross another creek. Authorities were ordering vehicles in the area to detour, Nuñez said.
The driver called the doctor to tell him they would be late, and the doctor canceled the appointment. Though the vehicle was just around 20 minutes from Presidio at that point, they decided to turn back, Nuñez said.
On the way back to Candelaria, though, the vehicle got stuck in mud near the first creek. The vehicle “wouldn’t even start,” Nuñez said. “The driver decided he had to get the [passengers] out.”
Another car stopped and helped, and the mother and child were safely removed from the van. A short time later, “a gush of water came,” Nuñez said. “It carried the vehicle down the creek — and in one of those rushes of water, it flipped the vehicle.”
The group called 911, prompting the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office to respond to the incident. In a social media post, the sheriff’s office confirmed that no one was injured and that the passengers safely made it back home.
“A TxDOT crew was able to get to the passengers and keep them safe while Sheriff’s Deputies made their way to the scene,” the office stated in the post. “Thank you TxDOT for your assistance.”
Started in 2006, the local TRAX (Transportation Rural Access Commute) program provides trips to medical appointments and doctor’s offices for anyone on Medicaid. It’s run through the Big Bend Community Action Committee, a nonprofit group dedicated to providing people with “useful skills and knowledge to achieve economic self-sufficiency,” according to its mission statement.
TRAX also strives to provide non-medical ridesharing opportunities to other people in the region as well — but in this case, it was working a medical call, Nuñez said. The group serves five counties: Presidio, Brewster, Jeff Davis, Hudspeth and Culberson.