FROM STAFF REPORTS
MARBLE FALLS — Motorists slowing to look at a roadside grass fire caused a chain reaction collision on U.S. 281 on May 26, sending two people — including a volunteer firefighter — to the emergency room, according to the police report.
The three-vehicle collision happened at 5:34 p.m. in the 3800 block of U.S. 281 South about three-tenths of a mile south of the Charley Taylor Rodeo Arena.
“There was a grass fire that got called in prior to the accident. Fire (crew) was responding but had not gotten there yet,” Marble Falls Police Officer Tina Harvey said. “There were onlookers. Everyone was looking at the fire and not paying attention to the road.”
According to the report, a black Ford, driven by 51-year-old Shandra Jarvis, was traveling northbound in the inside lane when she collided with a Hyundai Elantra traveling in front of her vehicle.
The Elantra was driven by 40-year-old John McGee of Llano.
McGee is a firefighter and president of the Spicewood Area Volunteer Fire Department.
“The (Elantra) was driving slowly in the inside lane, possibly due to a grass fire on the other side of the road. The driver of (the Ford) said she looked over to look at the fire, looked back and saw the vehicle in front of her had slowed down,” Harvey said. “Her vehicle hit the (Hyundai), which pushed it into oncoming traffic.”
An oncoming Chevrolet Silverado, driven by 46-year-old Johna Stewart of Llano, struck the Elantra.
Stewart was transported to Seton Medical Center Williamson in Round Rock with an injury to her back, a source close to the family confirmed.
McGee was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin with broken bones throughout his body, Harvey said.
No citations were issued; however, the report cited driver inattention and traveling at an unsafe speed as contributing factors to the collision.
A bystander used a fire extinguisher to douse the grass fire, just a few square feet in size, according to the Marble Falls Fire Rescue report.
Traffic was delayed from 40 minutes to an hour as crews cleared the scene and patients were transported, Harvey said.
Spicewood fire and EMS officials have launched a fundraising campaign toward the recovery cost of their fellow first responder.
“The department is like a family. It’s very hard when it’s one of your own,” EMS Director Patsy Lester said.
McGee has been with the department for about three years.
“You go on these calls and you feel bad about all of them, but when it’s someone in your department, it puts a bad feeling in your heart,” she said.
Send donations to the John McGee recovery fund at P.O. Box 2, Spicewood, TX 78669. For more information, call (512) 755-0001.