Crash victim calls for road changes made along Highway 290

After two months of rehabilitation Melissa Noel is able to lift herself out of her wheelchair and grab onto a walker. A big feat for someone who’s car was struck head on while driving on West Highway 290. Noel suffered from multiple rib fractures, a carotid neck injury and fractured foot.

“All the things that all of us take for granted I have a much greater appreciation for,” said Noel.

According to the crash report, the driver of the the other vehicle failed to yield before turning left onto oncoming traffic. The crash happened on February 3rd near Sawyer Ranch Road.

“All I saw was a silver flash and a really profound sense of collision,” Noel explained. “The flash just happened so fast and the airbags deployed and I went across the opposing lanes of traffic and went into the grassy embankment of the intersection and we rolled to a stop.”

In a state of shock, Noel’s immediate thought wasn’t her pain but the condition of her car. She said a woman who was a retired Austin/Travis County EMS worked stopped to render aid. The woman told Biel not to move and held her head until help arrived.

Once the adrenaline wore off and the pain set in so did the gravity of her injuries.

“If you have a collision it will change your life and it will change the lives of the people you collide with,” Noel said. “Based on my experience I don’t think it’s safe out there."

The small intersection of West Highway 290 is no stranger to crashes, fender benders and at times fatals. According to TxDOT’s Crash Record information system, the intersection has had at least 44 crashes over the course of four years. West Highway 290 in Hays County has seen 722 in four years.

TxDOT also says that there are no developments for West Highway 290 but in the near future the department is planning to expand the five lane road to a six lane and add a median in between.

TXDOT spokesperson Brad Wheelis expresses the importance of driver safety.

“We can implement engineering enhancements on roadways and we do but really the key is in the drivers hands we need drivers to make good decisions and drive safely out there,” Wheelis said.

Noel still gets nervous even in the passenger seat of a car and said won’t be taking 290 anytime soon. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get to the point where I feel comfortable driving out there.”

Noel’s physical therapist from Baylor Scott & White rehab said she is progressing well and if she continues her progress she may be be able to walk on her own in a month.