BEAUMONT, Texas — A 23-year-old Beaumont police officer was killed and another officer was seriously hurt in a head-on crash early Sunday morning when a driver going the wrong way hit their cruiser.
Officer Sheena Yarbrough-Powell died in the crash, and Officer Gabriel Fells was seriously hurt. The two officers were driving on Cardinal Drive (Highway 69) around 2:30 a.m. August 9 when their cruiser was hit head-on by a Ford Mustang, Beaumont Police spokesperson Officer Haley Morrow said in a news release. The accident happened near the Highway 347 overpass in south Beaumont.
Powell was pronounced dead at the scene, Beaumont Police said. Officer Fells was rushed to a nearby hospital in serious condition, but is now stable after undergoing surgery after the accident, Beaumont Police Chief Jimmy Singletary said in a news conference Sunday afternoon.
Texas DPS identified the driver of the Ford Mustang as Luis Torres, 18, of Port Arthur.
Powell's death marks the 18th officer killed in the line of duty in the history of the Beaumont Police Department.
Texas Department of Public Safety State Troopers are investigating the crash. Investigators initially determined that Torress was driving south in the northbound lane without headlights. He was also taken to a nearby hospital, and a blood specimen was collected to determine if alcohol was a factor in the accident, according to Texas DPS.
Chief Singletary said Powell was a Lumberton native and had been with the force since 2018. She had been married for only 10 months.
Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames told 12News Sunday this is the second officer she has lost since taking office in 2007.
"My thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends left behind after such a needless tragedy," Ames said. "There are no words that can comfort grieving at a time like this, but my hope is that you know how many people in our city grieve with you. Our entire city hurts when we lose a first responder."
In a tweet Sunday morning, Catholic Diocese of Beaumont Bishop Curtis Guillory offered condolences to Beaumont Police Officers and their families.
Local police departments and sheriff's offices from around Southeast Texas have also responded after waking up to the tragic news.
"The Orange County Sheriff’s Office would like to send our deepest condolences and prayers to the Beaumont Police Department," the department said in a Facebook post.
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From a Department of Public Safety news release:
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is investigating a two vehicle fatal crash that occurred early this morning on US 69 at MLK Boulevard, involving two Beaumont Police Officers.
The preliminary crash investigation indicates at approximately 2:30 a.m., a Beaumont Police Department patrol vehicle was traveling north. The driver of a 2006 Ford passenger car was traveling south in the northbound lane with no headlights and struck the patrol vehicle head-on.
The driver of the patrol vehicle is identified as 28-year-old Officer Gabriel Fells from Beaumont. A passenger with Fells is identified as 23-year-old Officer Sheena Yarbrough-Powell, also from Beaumont. Fells was transported to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Beaumont for treatment. Yarbrough-Powell was pronounced deceased at the scene by a Jefferson Co. Justice of the Peace.
The driver of the Ford is identified as 18-year-old Luis Torres from Port Arthur. Torres was also transported to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Beaumont for treatment.
Investigators believe Torres was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. A blood specimen was obtained and the results are pending.
This crash remains under investigation. No additional information is available at this time.