A semi-truck driver was killed Sunday evening after colliding with the crane Dallas city officials had brought in from Houston to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee in Lee Park.
According to a statement from city spokeswoman Monica Cordova and Dallas PD public information office DeMarquis Black, the crane arrived in Houston Sunday at about 7:45 p.m., and at about 8:19 p.m., DPD officers were called to the scene of the accident involving the crane and a semi at the intersection of S.M. Wright Freeway at Linfield Road.
Police said witnesses told them the crane was northbound in the 7700 block of S.M. Wright Freeway, turning left into the 4200 block of Linfield Road. The crane driver had a green left-turn arrow. The semi-truck was southbound on the freeway, moving at a high rate of speed, and the driver “failed to yield the right-of-way,” and collided with the crane as it was turning.
The semi driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The drive of the crane “did not sustain any serious injuries,” according to the statement.
The Dallas City Council voted last Wednesday, Sept. 6, to remove the statue from Lee Park, and crews worked all afternoon to prepare it and remove it. About 30 minutes before they would have been able to lift it from the pedestal and put it on the truck to move it, a judge issued a temporary restraining order to stop the removal. Dallas resident Hiram Patterson and the Texas division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans filed suit after the council’s vote Wednesday, claiming that removing the statue violated their freedom of speech. The lawyer representing Patterson and the SoCV has known ties to white supremacy groups.
Judge Sidney Fitzwater, who had issued the TRO Wednesday, held a hearing on Thursday, ruled against Patterson and the SoCV, and quickly lifted the restraining order. However, the crane was unable to navigate rush-hour traffic Thursday afternoon to get back to the park, and on Friday, the crane that was taken to the park was too small to move the statue. Police were stationed around the statue on Sunday, waiting for the bigger crane to arrive from Houston, and that crane was wrecked Sunday night.
We’ve seen no information yet on what happens now in terms of removing the statue.