Group raising money to help trucker who died in accident on East Freeway

HOUSTON – Investigators said a deputy came across a vehicle early Thursday that was facing the wrong direction on I-10.

What happened

The deputy stopped to investigate the scene and determined the driver was involved in a minor crash, spun out and ended up on the wrong side of Interstate 10, facing oncoming traffic.

Officials said that while the deputy was investigating the crash, an 18-wheeler hit the vehicle that had spun out. The driver of the semi, 60-year-old Steve Martinez, lost control, crashed through a guardrail and the truck plunged nearly 30 feet to the river below.

How people are helping

Robert Palm is the founder of Truckers Final Mile, a charity that assists the families of North American truck drivers who die or get hurt while on the job.

On Friday afternoon, he said he was in contact with Martinez’s wife to help with the cost to bring his body home to a San Antonio funeral home.

“I spoke with his wife, she is there in Houston making some arrangements and should be going home to San Antonio shortly, she’s of course grief struck,” Palm said. “We’re working with her just as much as we can to get this done with the least amount of burden and the least amount of heartache for her.”

Palm said they’ve served about 200 families in the last five years.

“It hits close to home because we’re all out on the road all the time and we see these accidents, these tragedies every day and that’s why our organization is here, to assist when the need arises,” Palm said. Martinez "just celebrated his 60th birthday a couple of days ago. Things like this can happen at any time to anybody, not just truck drivers.”

He said people can donate to their fund through the website.

“Give a dollar or two and help us get Mr. Martinez home to his family and we can do this expeditiously,” he said.