Fluid spills, such as the spill that occurred on South McAmis in earlier this week, are becoming an increasing problem in Breckenridge.
Fluid spills, such as the spill that occurred on South McAmis in earlier this week, are becoming an increasing problem in Breckenridge. (Rob Durham)
Mel Ridley was driving down FM 207 North in Stephens County on a beautiful, warm and sunny day.
“I was on my way to Graham to see my attorney, then going to go to Weatherford to see my other mother-my mom's best friend.”
What happened in the next instant would provide life-altering circumstances for Ridley.
“Where the wreck occurred is a 40 m.p.h. curve. So I never went more than 35 anyway,” she said. “I came around the curve, hit the spill, of course hit my brakes, and tried to correct the spinning to no avail. I finally came to rest a few spins later on the west bound side.”
Ridley said she remembers bits and pieces of the events following the accident before she was taken by air ambulance to a medical facility.

“I remember my head hurting pretty bad, and my right leg hurt — not sure how long I was there,” she said. “I want to say about 15 minutes before TxDOT showed up. They were the first ones there.”
Ridley said James Martin, stayed with her, at her car, as others were trying to block road so they could spread sand at the scene.
Following the accident, Ridley was in the hospital three-and-a-half weeks. Life has been “not great” according to Ridley.
“I was in a wheel chair until February of this year, in  a walker for two more months, and now most often with a cane.  I am having debilitating pain, and weakness because of the nerve damage to my back and leg.

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I have also developed a condition called Avascular Necrosis in my right leg, the one that was injured in the accident,” she said. “It is a condition in which the bone does not get enough blood flow, due to injury, and eventually the bone dies, or collapses in which surgery will be required to fuse bones together. I am unable to work full time due to the pain, and inability to move and walk a bunch.”
What happened to Ridley has been an increasing hazard in Stephens County, as well as in the city limits of Breckenridge.
“Rex (Baker) picked up the bucket (from the spill) the next day and I just went from there,” she said.
Ridley found out where the bucket was sent from, but was having trouble with the companies in Breckenridge on who sells the brand of gear oil that caused her accident.
“I started with a map, and the information from the Texas Railroad Commission. They have all the wells, listed by county and their operators,” she said. “So I deduced that the driver was coming from the south, which was also confirmed from the highway patrol report, as the spill came off a vehicle going to the north.”
Ridley has continued her research into the accident.
“I have looked up the companies that have wells in Stephens and Eastland County and their routes.  I have located 175 wells from CR 101 in Ranger to 180 in Breckenridge, all along the 207 County Road to the north.”
This is where Ridley began getting stalwarted on searching for information.
“As soon as we started asking questions about the type of oil, they clammed up. Local companies never have anyone in the office or return calls,” she said. “(The company) where we started, would not even give us information  on if they had that type of oil and law enforcement has been pretty stand-offish as well. It's almost like they know the answer, but don't want to say anything. It's the same response we have been getting for a year with everyone.”
Ridley said she will continue to search for answers.
“I have mapped all the wells in the area on a map,” she said. “I'm going to go through the rest of the companies in the area and see if there are any others in the area. It's tedious but worth it.”
Ridley said her motive to find the owner of the fluid that was spilled is not stereotypical. She just wants to see that it isn't a hazard for someone else.
“If I can help to prevent another accident that forever changes someone's life. I don't want anyone to have to go through what we have been through in the last two years,” she said. “And I don't want anyone to lose their lives over neglectful oil companies and their ‘I don't give a damn attitude' about dumping their trash or not securing the containers.”