A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper was killed in a pedestrian-vehicle accident during an Interstate 35 traffic stop Saturday, officials said.
Senior Trooper Thomas Nipper, 63, was struck by a pickup truck on the highway shoulder at about 3:05 p.m. in the 6400 block of southbound I-35. The incident occurred just north of the Temple DPS office.
DPS Sgt. Dave Roberts said the trooper was taken to Scott & White Medical Center-Temple, where he was pronounced dead.
“It is with heavy heart that we must notify our fellow Texans that State Trooper Thomas Nipper died in the line of duty today,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw in a news release late Saturday. “Today Texas and our DPS family lost one of our finest. Trooper Nipper was a hard-working and selfless man, who proudly served and protected the people of this state. His commitment to duty and his sacrifice will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this extremely difficult time.”
Trooper Nipper was commissioned as a Trooper in January of 1983, and he was stationed in Temple, the release said. He is the 220th DPS officer to die in the line of duty since 1823. He is survived by his wife and three children. Funeral arrangements are pending.
About a dozen DPS vehicles remained parked outside the emergency entrance at the hospital hours after the trooper died.
The trooper’s vehicle was on fire when a Temple Fire & Rescue unit arrived at 3:12 p.m., spokesman Thomas Pechal said.
Roberts said the truck struck the rear of the trooper’s marked DPS vehicle before crashing.
Firefighters used foam to extinguish it, and gave medical care to four people, including the trooper, involved in the crash.
The driver of a blue Mazda was also taken to Scott & White in unknown condition, said Pechal.
Scott Taylor of Marble Falls, and his fiancée, Carmen Bridges, were occupants of a white 2017 Chevrolet pickup truck and said the accident occurred on their way home from Corsicana.
“We have no idea what happened,” he said. “We were in the left lane. As far as I know that was the last thing I remember, then us rolling.”
“I didn’t even know we hit a car,” Taylor said.
Both of them had chest pains, he said, but they didn’t want to leave their Chihuahua puppy, Faith. They lost track of their other dog, Jackson, a brindle mastiff-boxer mix.
“We were grateful,” he said. “The airbags saved our lives.”
“It seemed like our truck was completely surrounded when we landed,” he said. “There were people everywhere.”