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I-10 WB near Fannett reopens after cleanup of overturned crane causes traffic backup for hours

Officials say because the driver of the crane left after the crash, they could face a class c or even a class b misdemeanor.

BEAUMONT, Texas — The Texas Department of Public Safety has successfully removed an overturned crane that shut down Interstate 10 westbound near Fannett Wednesday night into Thursday afternoon.

Preliminary investigation indicates that on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 at approximately 11:40 a.m., a 1998 Deutsche Grove mobile crane was traveling west.

It is reported that the driver failed to drive in a single lane to the right and traveled into the ditch, where it overturned, according to a news release from the Texas Department of Public Safety. 

Troopers say the driver left the scene and has not been located. 

I-10 westbound closed at Major Drive beginning at 8 p.m. Wednesday and was supposed to reopen noon Thursday in order for crews to remove the overturned crane from the right of way, but the removal took longer than anticipated.

This caused traffic to back up well into Beaumont through Thursday afternoon.

"Due to the size of the 300-ton crane, it is taking multiple wrecker companies working together to get the machine off of the roadway. While Interstate 10 is still shut down, traffic is being diverted onto Major Drive to State Highway 124," Texas DPS Sgt. Shana Clark previously told 12News. 

The highway reopened around 3:15 p.m. Thursday. 

DPS was responsible for moving the 300-ton machine. They had help from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, along with several wreckers at the scene.

Captain Crystal Homes tells 12News people officials worked with wrecker services to craft a plan to remove the crane from the side of the road.

"Unfortunately that ties up I-10. They had to remove some concrete barriers and lay rigged mats to get the heavier equipment closer to the crane itself on the road to get the crane upright," she said. 

Officials say because the driver of the crane left after the crash, they could face a class c or even a class b misdemeanor.

"One of the worst things someone can do if they have a CDL is leave the scene, because they could risk losing their license and getting it suspended," said Lawyer Bruce Smith.

If charged with a class c misdemeanor, that could lead to a fine of up to $500 and a class b could have the driver face up to six months in jail. 

The name of the company that owns the crane is North American Machinery, LLC. based out of Houston. 

12News reached out to the company, but hasn't heard back. 

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This is a developing story. We will update with more if and when we receive more confirmed information.

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