Man apparently fell asleep at the wheel

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal

A 34-year-old man was transported to a Corpus Christi hospital by HALO-Flight early Thursday morning after his vehicle collided with an 18-wheeler and rolled over on Highway 281 about 11 miles north of Alice, Department of Public Safety Trooper Ismael Escobar said.

The driver was identified as 34-year-old Joel Dominguez Ordonez from Mexico.

"The driver apparently was fatigued or fell asleep (at the wheel) and was in and out of lanes," Escobar said.

According to DPS, an 18-wheeler and a Ford Explorer SUV driven by Ordonez, which was towing a van, were traveling southbound on Highway 281, about 5 a.m near the Tecolote area Thursday.

The driver of the 18-wheeler, Joel Ortiz, 51, from Alamo, attempted to pass the SUV to steer away from the SUV which was swerving.

As the 18-wheeler began to pass the SUV, the SUV veered into the 18-wheeler's lane causing it to collide with and land atop the van the SUV was towing. The van was disconnected from the SUV and veered west off the road as the SUV jack-knifed.

The 18-wheeler continued southbound and then hit the front of the SUV, which was pushed into the median, rolling over one-and-a-half times resting on its side facing north, Escobar said.

The Alice Fire Department used the jaws-of-life to free Ordonez from his vehicle and was taken by HALO-Flight to a Corpus Christi hospital, Escobar said. Ortiz was not injured in the incident.

The condition of Ordonez was not known on Thursday because he was a "no informational" patient, hospital officials said.

Jim Wells Sheriff's officials assisted with the accident and traffic.