Copperas Cove class of 2018 alum among three dead in early Saturday morning collision on I-14
By LYNETTE SOWELL
A 22-year-old Copperas Cove man is among three who died in an early Saturday morning collision on I-14, according to a statement released on Sunday afternoon by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Joshua Smith, 22, of Copperas Cove, was a 2018 graduate of Copperas Cove High School and attended Texas State University in San Marcos.
Smith, along with 20-year-old Aaliyah Marie Peinado, of Nipoma, California, was riding in the backseat of a 2013 Kia Optima, driven by a 20-year-old Copperas Cove woman whose identity was not released by Texas DPS.
Shortly before 2 a.m. on Saturday, July 16, they were headed westbound on I-14 when they encountered another vehicle being driven the wrong way.
DPS stated that 22-year-old Matthew Fernandez was driving a 2017 Toyota Corolla, headed eastbound in the westbound lane near the Fort Hood T.J. Mills exit.
Fernandez was a Sergeant with the 36th Engineer Brigade on Fort Hood.
“The vehicles collided head on causing substantial damage. The Toyota caught fire after the collision. Good Samaritans attempted to free the driver from the burning vehicle to no avail,” stated Sgt. Bryan Washko with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
It is not known at this time how long Fernandez had been traveling the wrong way along I-14 before the crash.
Washko said that Smith and Peinado were unrestrained in the backseat and died in the collision as a result of their injuries, and the two were pronounced deceased by Justice of the Peace Gregory Johnson.
The 20-year-old female driver was transported to Baylor Scott and White in Temple with incapacitating injuries. Washko said her identity hasn’t been released due to HIPAA regulations.
Fernandez was also pronounced deceased by Justice of the Peace Gregory Johnson.
According to Washko, the crash investigation is still active and open.
Washko added, “Texas DPS would like to remind Texans to never drink and drive. Always plan ahead and utilize a designated driver or a ride share program when consuming alcoholic beverages. Taking preventable measures will prevent a DWI arrest or being involved in a major crash. Also, Texas Law requires everyone in a vehicle is required to be buckled up. Failing to be restrained by a safety belt greatly increases the risk of serious injury or death when involved in a traffic crash.”
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.