A man was killed and his granddaughter injured Tuesday when their pickup crashed into and was lodged under a tanker truck.
The accident happened about 7 p.m. on Highway 277 north of Abilene near the Taylor/Jones County line.
According to DPS, 50-year-old William Woodruff died at the scene. DPS said he was the driver of the pickup that struck the 18-wheeler. Woodruff was a Taylor County Sheriff's Department deputy.
A 6-year-old girl, Ann Marie Woodruff, was also in the pickup. She is a relative of the driver. She remains at Hendrick Medical Center in critical condition.
It marked the ninth traffic fatality in the Big Country since last Friday, Jan. 25.
In a statement, a DPS spokesman said a Mack Truck driven by 60-year-old David Lowewenstern was attempting to cross the northbound lane of Highway 277. Lowewenstern stopped in the median to allow south bound traffic to clear, leaving the trailer of his truck blocking north bound traffic.
Investigators said Deputy Woodruff didn’t see the trailer in time to avoid the collision. The pickup crashed into the left end of the trailer.
Blowing dust was heavy in the area at the time and visibility was limited.
Traffic on Hwy 277 was stalled and diverted for some time.
Lt. John Cummins with the Taylor County Sheriff's Office released the following statement Wednesday morning:
"The Taylor County Sheriff's Office mourns the loss of Corrections Officer William L. 'Bill' Woodruff, killed in an automobile accident last night north of Abilene. Woodruff began his career in April 2011 as a 'floor officer' in the county's detention center. He was recently assigned as an officer on the Precinct 3 inmate workcrew.
"Sheriff Ricky Bishop said Woodruff's family is 'in the thoughts and prayers of this office,' and that his (Woodruff's) granddaughter who was also injured and is being treated in a Fort Worth hospital 'needs all the prayers she can get, now.'"
"The death of Bill Woodruff is not only a loss for this agency," Bishop said, "but for area law enforcement as well."