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Big rig driver killed in crash into San Jacinto River identified

The 18-wheeler went off the bridge into the San Jacinto River early Thursday after it crashed into a disabled Cavalier.

HOUSTON — A man whose body was recovered from the cab of a big rig that crashed into the San Jacinto River has been identified, according to Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

The Harris Co. Institute of Forensic Sciences has positively identified the truck driver as Steve Martinez, 60, from San Antonio. Martinez had turned 60 the day before the crash. 

Crews started searching for the man’s body shortly after the crash happened Thursday morning. They ended the search Thursday evening when they realized they were unable to remove the big rig from the river.

The truck was removed from the river by a crane. 

The sheriff posted pictures to Twitter during the process.

The HCSO Marine Unit, HazMat team, Crosby firefighters and the U.S. Coast Guard were are all involved in the search on Thursday.

Investigators say a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy pulled up on scene after a Chevrolet Cavalier was involved in a minor crash with another 18-wheeler that did not stay at the scene. The crash sent the Cavalier into a spin into from the eastbound lanes into the westbound lanes.

A description of the first 18-wheeler that did not stay at the scene was not available.

The 18-year-old driver and 23-year-old passenger, both males, exited the Cavalier after the crash. The deputy noticed the car did not have lights on after the crash making it a road hazard.

Investigators say that is when the other 18-wheeler heading westbound came and crashed into the disabled Cavalier. That collision resulted in the big rig driver over-correcting and crashing through the guardrail into the San Jacinto River.

The river is anywhere from 20 to 30 feet below the bridge depending on where you are on the bridge. The deputy that responded to the original crash and the two occupants of the Cavalier were not injured in the second crash. The driver of the Cavalier was not impaired at the time of the initial collision and is cooperating with the investigation.

There are no pending charges at this time.

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