A DPS trooper died Saturday evening after his vehicle was struck by a white pickup truck on southbound Interstate 35, according to DPS officials.
The trooper was conducting a traffic stop around 3:05 p.m. on the shoulder of the highway when the pickup truck hit the DPS vehicle from behind, officials said.
The DPS trooper was transported to Baylor Scott and White in serious condition Saturday afternoon, according to Temple PD Spokesperson Shawana Neely. DPS later confirmed the trooper was pronounced dead at the hospital. The trooper was identified as 63-year-old Senior Trooper Thomas Nipper.
“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. “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, according to a DPS press release.
Nipper was 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.
Neely said there were several vehicles involved in this incident and it is unknown at this time how many are injured.
TxDOT confirmed with Channel 6 News Saturday afternoon the crash involved three vehicles on the southbound side of I-35 near Midway Drive.
DPS told Channel 6 the driver of the white pickup was also transported to the hospital. That drivers condition is unknown as of Saturday evening.
One car caught fire, according to TxDOT's Jodi Wheatley.
DPS was investigating the crash as of Saturday evening.
TxDOT estimated it would take four hours to clear the scene. One lane of the southbound access road was open with emergency vehicles blocking the other lane. The scene was cleared by 9:31 p.m., TxDOT officials said.
Here are some photos sent to Channel 6 by a viewer:
Another viewer sent us this video of the crash:
TxDOT provided the following alternate route for southbound drivers:
1. Exit 304 to Loop 363
2. Turn right and drive 4.0 miles to SH 36
3. Turn right and drive 3.75 miles to SH 317
4. Turn left and drive 5.75 miles to FM 439
5. Turn right and drive 0.75 miles to Loop 121
6. Turn left and drive 5 miles to I-35
7. Turn right and drive to on-ramp.
*** A previous version of this story stated A blue Mazda was involved in the crash and the driver of that vehicle was also taken to Baylor Scott and White in unknown condition, according to the Temple Fire Department. DPS information later determined the other driver transported to the hospital was the driver of the white pickup and not the blue Mazda.***
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.