Questions linger about bridge's icy condition during fatal crash

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on December 10, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 10 at 7:02 PM

LEWISVILLE — Of all the frightening things captured on video the last few days, it was perhaps the most painful to watch a gray pickup truck being hoisted end-over-end from the frigid waters of Lewisville Lake.

"Only 21 years old and we don't have her anymore," said a tearful Isabel Martinez Gawalek. The pictures are just unwatchable and unbearable inside the Gawalek home.

Isabel's daughter, Kayla, was driving the truck early Saturday morning on her way to work. Witnesses said the vehicle went out of control on the icy Interstate 35E bridge over Lewisville Lake, careened over the guardrail and plunged into the water below.

The bridge remained open through the storm.

"I don't understand why anyone in Lewisville in their right mind would have not said at least we need to block it," Isabel Gawalek said. "It's dangerous; it's dangerous for anyone to cross that. Why did it have to be my daughter? Why her?"

Waist-high guardrails, meant to stop an accident like this from happening, had slush and ice piled high around them; that's visible in video of rescue crews at the scene Saturday morning.

Law enforcement agencies said the decision to shut down a road due to adverse conditions would be made by the Texas Department of Transportation. But TxDOT maintains that call would actually be made by law enforcement.

"It was really like a sheet of ice," said Lindsay Shanks, a 20-year-old who drove on the bridge hours before the crash. She even tweeted (not while she was driving) to a friend that she was "trying to not slide off the bridge into Lake Lewisville."

"It was just me thinking, because that's one of my biggest fears is falling off a bridge," she said about the tweet, sent Friday.

One day later, it happened.

"It's just ironic that I tweeted that and then it happened," she said.

Shanks drove on the bridge trying to get to work. Kayla Gawalek was trying to get to her job, too.

"I"m gonna miss her so much," said her mother.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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