The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local News

October 31, 2008

Cause of fatal accident still being investigated

PALESTINE — A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper said he continues to investigate why an ambulance driven by a Houston woman crossed the center stripe and collided with another vehicle Wednesday, killing a 47-year-old Palestine woman.

Lela Stafford Granberry, 47, of Palestine died early Wednesday morning as a result of injuries sustained in a two-vehicle accident on Texas 155, approximately 6.2 miles south of Frankston, according to the DPS.

The accident occurred around 5:45 a.m. Wednesday when an ambulance traveling southbound and operated by 22-year-old Andrea Darlene Pankonien of Houston traveled into the northbound lane and then the east bar ditch, colliding with a nortbound 2006 Toyota four-door operated by Granberry, according to the DPS.

Granberry was pronounced dead at the scene by Anderson County Justice of the Peace Gary Thomas who has ordered an autopsy to be performed at the Southeast Texas Forensic Science Center in Tyler.

The ambulance operated by Pankonien was owned by Huntsville-based Acute Care EMS Inc., according to DPS Trooper Damien Conner, who is investigating the accident.

Pankonien and a fellow EMS worker were returning to Huntsville after having earlier transported and delivered a patient to a Tyler hospital, according to the trooper.

At the time of the accident, the EMS workers remained “on duty,” but were not responding to an emergency, according to Conner.

Pankonien was treated and released at Palestine Regional Medical Center following the accident, while the male EMS worker was uninjured, according to Conner.

The trooper said he was uncertain why Pankonien drove into the oncoming lane and then the opposite bar ditch.

“I haven’t been able to determine that,” Conner told the Herald-Press Thursday afternoon.

Services for Granberry are pending at Bailey & Foster Funeral Home in Palestine.

Granberry was the daughter of the late Paul Stafford, a former Anderson County assistant district attorney, who died earlier this month.


Paul Stone may be contacted via e-mail at

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