MT. PLEASANT – A young Rockwall couple who were Mesquite ISD educators and their infant son were killed Saturday when their 2009 Hyundai slammed into the back of an 18-wheeler “freightliner” truck, stopped for traffic on I-30, west of Texarkana, north of Cookville.
Texarkana Department of Public Safety officials said Leah Eason, 30, who had just completed her first year as an assistant principal at Florence Black Elementary School in Mesquite, died at the scene.
James Eason, 30, and their one-year-old son, Luke, were taken to Titus Regional Medical Center in Mt. Pleasant but were pronounced dead there. The father was a fifth grade teacher at B. J. Smith Elementary School in Mesquite.
The couple’s four-year-old son, Jace Eason, was also injured but was flown to Children’s Hospital in Dallas where he is listed in good condition.
DPS officials said the family was traveling eastbound on I-30 near CR3445 just before 3:30 pm when the accident took place.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation. Reports from others at the scene indicate the truck and traffic were stopped because of an earlier accident two miles ahead that occurred when an SUV with a trailer lost control and rolled over on I-30.
Students and parents at Smith Elementary have erected a memorial to the Eason family outside the school with flowers, photos and notes.
A Mesquite ISD Facebook page was filled with prayers for the Eason family and tributes from parents and colleagues.
Mesquite ISD issued the following statement Sunday evening:
“Our hearts are broken over the sudden and tragic loss of these two special educators and their youngest son, and our thoughts are with their families during this time. Leah and Jim profoundly impacted those who were privileged to know them. Words cannot express how much they will be missed.”
“Leah’s personality and contagious smile brightened her campus every day. She encompassed the perfect balance of leadership and friendship and was always open to building relationships with the staff and students. Leah was a huge part of the strong foundation at Florence Black Elementary. The staff at the school considered Jim, Leah, Jace, and Luke part of their family, and as they move forward, it will be with heavy hearts.”
“Jim was an excellent teacher whose strength was building relationships with students. He could make connections with students when no one else could. Jim always used humor in class and would tell stories using the students as characters to engage them and help them understand the lessons. He was a good role model, especially for his male students, and set high expectations for learning and treating others with kindness and respect.”
By J.J. Smith, Publisher