Two people died Thursday south of Laird Hill when the pickup truck they were riding in went into a ditch and struck a pipe fence and tree, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

Robert Deveral Barber, 40, of Gladewater and Chad Eugene Blackman, 32, of Grand Prairie died at the scene.

Troopers responded just before 3:30 p.m. Thursday to FM 2012, two miles south of Laird Hill in Rusk County, DPS said.

A preliminary report showed that the truck, driven by Barber, had been traveling north on FM 2012 when the front right tire blew out, DPS said. The blowout caused Barber to loose control of his truck and go into a ditch before striking a pipe fence and tree.

DPS said both men were not wearing seatbelts.

Judge Pat McCrory pronounced both men dead. Their bodies were taken to Rader Funeral Home in Kilgore.

The crash remains under investigation, DPS said.

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