City of Navasota Parks and Recreation Coordinator Sarah Korpita and her husband George lost their 3-year-old son Eli and his 57-year-old grandmother, Lynnette Kelly Korpita of Rustin, La., to a car accident Thursday afternoon near the Louisiana and Texas border.
Department of Public Safety Trooper Chaney Howeth said the grandmother was driving northbound on US 79, in a 2002 Chrysler minivan, when she struck the back of a 2004 International truck that was at a stop inside a small construction zone area. The minivan went underneath the 2-ton truck, losing its cab and incurring major frontal damage.
The speed limit on the undivided, 4-lane road is 65 mph.
In an effort to avoid the accident, Trooper Howeth said the male Gateway Tire truck driver from Louisiana attempted to drive into a ditch when he noticed the minivan approaching in his rear view mirror.
“It was a matter of seconds and he couldn't get out of the way in time. He was in a line of cars; there wasn't anywhere for the truck driver to go,” said the trooper.
Judge David Anderson pronounced both Korpita and her grandson, who was sitting in a car seat behind the driver, dead at the scene. The Louisiana truck driver, who had just completed a delivery in Texas, was not injured.
Trooper Howeth said it is believed that Korpita did not recognize that the line of traffic ahead of her was being directed to stop when the accident occurred, at approximately 1:45 p.m.
“She didn't touch her brakes; it appears she did not realize they were stopped ahead of her, but we'll never know,” said Trooper Howeth.
Other responding agencies included Panola County Sheriff's Office and Intercommunity Volunteer Fire Department.
A memorial service and celebration of life for Eli Korpita and Lynette Korpita will be held at 10:30 a.m., Monday, April 16, at First Baptist Church of Navasota.
Navasota Mayor Bert Miller said, “Staff and city council members of the City of Navasota are offering sympathy, comfort and prayers to George and Sarah in this time of need. City offices will close at 9:30 a.m., Monday, for a memorial service to be held at the First Baptist Church at 10:30 am.”
In lieu of flowers, George and Sarah Korpita have requested memorials be made in Elis name to the City of Navasota for a park project dedicated to Eli. To make a donation, visit Navasota City Hall or call 936-825-6408.
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