Pearland couple killed in 140-vehicle pileup

Couple from Pearland killed

BEAUMONT, Texas - A couple from Pearland was killed and more than 80 people were hurt Thursday when at least 140 vehicles collided in Southeast Texas in a pileup that left trucks twisted on top of each other and authorities rushing to pull survivors from the wreckage.

The collision occurred in extremely foggy conditions at about 8:45 a.m. Thanksgiving Day on Interstate 10 southwest of Beaumont, a Gulf Coast city about 80 miles east of Houston.

Debra Leggio, 60, and Vincent Leggio, 64, of Pearland, died in a Chevy Suburban SUV crushed by a tractor trailer, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

"They were happy people," said Richard Leggio, the victims' son.

Richard Leggio said he and his relatives were shocked when they got the news that his parents died in the pileup.

"They liked to gamble a lot. That was their little getaway," he said. "They're great people is all I can say."

The Leggios were well-known business owners who operated Vinco Electric Company in Pearland.

"He was a nice man. I would go over there and carry them donuts. They did our electricity work when we had problems here," said Dan Jones, a friend.

"My brother and I run the business, and we'll keep going forth from there," Richard Leggio said.

The accident injured nearly 100 people.

Jefferson County sheriff's Deputy Rod Carroll said that 80 to 90 people were transported to hospitals with 10 to 12 of those in serious to critical condition. He said 140 to 150 vehicles were involved in the pileup.

According to DPS, a crash on the eastbound side of the highway led to other accidents in a dangerous chain reaction. There were multiple crashes on the other side of the highway as well.

Carroll told The Associated Press the fog was so thick that deputies didn't immediately realize they were dealing with multiple accidents.

"It is catastrophic," Carroll said. "I've got cars on top of cars."

I-10's eastbound lanes were re-opened Thursday evening after more than eight hours.

Carroll said uninjured drivers tried to help as authorities sorted through the wreckage.

"It's just people helping people," Carroll said. "The foremost thing in this holiday season is how other travelers were helping us when we were overwhelmed, sitting and holding, putting pressure on people that were injured."

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