Two Fort Hood Soldiers died and a third was injured when their car sped across the median of State Highway 195 near Georgetown and hit another car head-on, killing the driver, Feb. 1.
While the accident is under investigation by Texas Department of Public Safety, Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody said Monday the vehicle driven southbound by the Soldier was traveling well over 100 miles an hour before crossing the median and hitting the on-coming car.
“We believe that speed may be a factor in the fatalities we saw a couple of weeks ago, just a complete disregard for traffic safety, common sense,” the sheriff said. “Our whole goal here is to stop these Soldiers from dying needlessly on the highways. They put their lives on the line, and then they come home … and die unexpectedly.”
The two Soldiers killed were Pvt. Eric Christopher Hogan, 19, and Pvt. Anthony Nevelle Peak Jr., 21, both from the 1st Cavalry Division.
“The Thunder Battalion is deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic loss of Pvt. Eric Hogan,” said Lt. Col. Ronald Sprang, commander, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cav. Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav. Div. “We send our most heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Private Hogan. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them in this trying time. He was an important member of the battalion scout platoon and the battalion and his loss is deeply felt.”
“Pfc. Anthony Peak was a valuable member of this team and his loss is felt by his friends and the Soldiers of the Saber Squadron and Greywolf Brigade. Command Sgt. Maj. Ryan McLane and I would like to express our deepest condolences to Anthony’s family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time,” Col. Kevin Capra, 3rd BCT, 1st Cav. Div., said.
According to Fort Hood Safety Officer Dan Orta, these are the first Fort Hood troops killed on Highway 195 since early 2016. Throughout the years, though, the highway, used often by troops as a back road to Austin, has proven to be dangerous and deadly.
“Since October of 2000,” Orta noted, “there have been 12 Soldier fatalities on Highway 195 — 11 in privately-owned vehicles and one pedestrian.”
Before the highway was widened to four lanes with a median, 195 was even more dangerous than it is today. As an example, Orta said Fort Hood lost 21 troops on this stretch of road between 1996 and 1998 alone.
“That’s before my time, but I will tell you I think back then it was daily they had collisions,” Chody said. “I don’t think it’s as bad because (then) you had a much narrower road, like a country road, and they were going 55 to 75 miles and hour or faster. I think (widening the highway) has helped a lot.”
Still, the sheriff said the crash Feb. 1 should never have occurred, if motorists simply slow down and follow the posted speed limits. He said he and his deputies are committed to enforcing those limits for safety sake.
“One is too many,” Chody said of the fatalities. “To have three fatalities in one collision is really unheard of, even in our line of work.
“We need to make sure these Soldiers know that we’re out there,” he added, “and we’re going to stop them.”