California man dies in Hartley County
By Robin Scott
A driver with Swift Transportation out of Phoenix, Arizona was found dead in his truck on Sunday, June 21st. Chester Austin, age 55, from Palmdale, California, was pronounced dead at the scene by Hartley County Justice of the Peace Edwyna Womble. Austin is believed to have suffered a heart attack. He managed to pull his truck off of the roadway before passing away.
According to Sheriff Franky Scott, Hartley County Sheriff’s Office, Austin likely died sometime Friday evening. Representatives with Swift reported to Sheriff Scott that their last contact with Austin was sometime Friday. Austin’s vehicle was equipped with an onboard computer, so Swift knew approximately where the vehicle was located. They contacted the Sheriff’s office when they became concerned that they had no verbal contact with Austin and feared something had happened to him.
A second Swift truck arrived on the scene before the Hartley County Sheriff’s Office and the driver discovered Austin. Austin’s truck was running and the lights were on. Sheriff Scott noted that people passing by wouldn’t have thought anything about the truck parked at Middle Water, 21 miles southwest of Dalhart on Highway 54. Sheriff Scott stated, “We see trucks pulled in and out of there all of the time, so nothing would have appeared to be wrong.”
Deputy Randy Hooks and Deputy Tim Bell were at the scene with Sheriff Scott and all were assisted by Dallam County Sheriff Bruce Scott, Deputy Jack Reynolds and members of the Dalhart Fire Department. Sheriff Scott commented that the passenger seat of the truck was removed in order to pull Austin from the vehicle. Horizon Funeral Home met the emergency responders out at the scene to take possession of Austin’s body. Sheriff Scott stated, “Mr. Austin’s family has already been contacted and know what has happened.”
Swift Transportation is the largest transportation company in North America. Swift was founded by Jerry Moyes in 1966 in Phoenix.