Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
A small piece of metal glints light into your eyes off of the road, but it is too late to avoid it and you drive directly over. As your tire hits the mysterious object your car lurches forward and you have to slowly come to a stop and pull over to the shoulder of the interstate. You investigate and find a small welded metal spike embedded into one of your front tires that is now almost fully inflated. These small metal spikes were recently found in large quantities along parts of Interstate 20 outside of Lindale.
Starting around the first part of June, a number of caltrops, welded metal spikes designed to deflate tires, were found along Interstate 20 stretching from Lindale to Van. These caltrops have affected many residents of the community, but the complete extent of the total damage is unknown. The investigation to find the perpetrator who placed these caltrops in an attempt to pierce tires.
“Since this started there’s been an excess of over 300 caltrops found across the interstate,” Larry Christian, Smith County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, said. “The caltrops have been primarily located on Interstate 20 between FM 314 and Van Zandt County and we have found them as far down as Highway 69 on the interstate.”
A number of students drive on the stretch where these caltrops have been found from Hideaway, YWAM, Garden Valley and the Stallion Lake communities. Students should be extra cautious on their commutes while the investigation remains open.
“It’s incumbent upon anybody driving to look down the road and see what hazards are there, whether it be a road gator which is a part of a tire from an 18 wheeler or a caltrop,” Christian said. “Just be aware of your surroundings and in the roadway ahead of you and always try to continue to maintain a proper distance from the car ahead of you.”
Fortunately, damage from these caltrops remains limited to tire damage. However, these cases will often be severe enough to warrant replacement of the entire tire.
“I know a couple of people who had their tires hit,” senior Gavin Drewry said. “The main one is Clint Wiggins, I work for him, and his trailer tires were hit which blew up both of his front tires and set him back several weeks.”
The Smith County Sheriff Department, in conjunction with the Texas Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Safety, and Constable Jeff McClenny have headed the investigation and hope to bring it to a close soon.
“Honestly, there has not been much progress,” Constable Jeff McClenny said. “In cases like these we have to wait for a mistake to be made because we just need the right information like a vehicle description so we are relying very heavily on the public going forward.”
Students or parents who have information on this case should contact the Smith County Sheriff Office at (903) 590-2661 or through their website in order to ensure the case eventually comes to a close.
“I am optimistic with the investigation,” Lazerine said. “The investigators and TxDOT are using their resources to bring the investigation to a close, It just takes time with investigations like these.”