Census workers mourn deaths of supervisors

5/1/10 The U.S. Census supervisors who died in a horrific collision at a rural intersection northwest of Midland were delightful, enthusiastic people whose passing is deeply mourned by their colleagues, Regional Census Director Charlie Spence said Saturday.

Spence said David Millsap, 67, of Levelland and 31-year-old Sara Pierce of Brownfield had spent Friday morning with 80 Census workers at the regional office south of Midland International Airport and were en route home when the accident happened at 12:25 p.m.

Going northeasterly on the Highway 349 Reliever Route, Millsap's 2003 Dodge Ram pickup collided with a westbound 2002 International tractor trailer rig driven by 40-year-old Heriberto Jaquez of Midland, who was listed in stable condition with non-incapacitating injuries at Midland Memorial Hospital.

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Chris Goodman said Saturday that Millsap "disregarded the stop sign" and drove into Jaquez' path.

Goodman said Millsap died at 1:37 p.m. at Midland Memorial Hospital after Pierce had been declared dead at the scene at 1:05 p.m. by Midland County Justice of the Peace George Zimmerman.

"David and Sara were really excited, as were we, about getting ready to go out in the field and do what we call our non-response follow-up for the next several weeks," said Spence, former publisher of the Reporter-Telegram.

"It's one of the most devastating things you can imagine to be with those people in the morning and then they're gone in the afternoon."

Spence said Millsap and Pierce, both married, were field operations supervisors, each responsible for 100 enumerators and crew chiefs. He said they had come to the 10000 W. Highway 80 headquarters office for materials to be distributed throughout the Lubbock area.

"Our census family is absolutely shocked and saddened," Spence said. "Our hearts and prayers go out to those family members and I will go visit them Sunday in both cities."

When asked if there should have already been an overpass at the intersection, he said, "There is obviously a need for one and the sooner, the better.

"I drove that highway this morning to see the site and stop where it happened. There's adequate signage; however, if you're unfamiliar with the road, I can see how that happened. The highway is a wonderful addition to the city. They're in the process of building the overpass and will have it finished next spring."

Named for state Rep. Tom Craddick and his wife Nadine, the 16-mile two lane reliever route was opened last December, connecting Interstate 20 and Farm to Market 1788 with Highway 349 between Midland and Lamesa.

Jones Brothers Dirt & Paving Contractors of Odessa was awarded a $4 million contract in January to build the overpass, running 349 over 158.

Campbell, Bob. "Census workers mourn deaths of supervisors." Midland Reporter-Telegram, May 1, 2010.