A 73-year-old Axtell man driving a tractor-trailer died Tuesday morning after a tire blew out, causing his vehicle to cross into the opposite lane of traffic, hit an SUV and overturn, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Michael Nelson was pronounced dead at the scene, DPS Sgt. Ryan Howard said in an email. Nelson's family has been notified.

Nelson was driving a Freightliner semi south on U.S. Highway 77, near Farm-to-Market Road 2643, at about 6:40 a.m. Tuesday when a tire blew out, Howard said. Nelson lost control of the truck and crossed into the opposite lane of traffic, crashing into the front left side of a Ford SUV, he said.

The Freightliner continued forward, left the roadway, overturned and became fully engulfed in flames, Howard said. The driver of the Ford was transported to a local hospital in critical condition.

According to DPS, drivers should ensure their tires have correct air pressure, tread depth, balance and alignment to remain safe while driving because they are the only part of the vehicle that has direct contact with the road.

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Brooke Crum joined the Tribune-Herald as the education reporter in January 2019. She has worked for the Springfield News-Leader in Missouri, Abilene Reporter-News, Beaumont Enterprise and the Port Arthur News. Crum graduated from TCU in Fort Worth.

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