On March 6, 2010 thirteen-year-old Kendrick Owens had just left his fathers house to meet his mother at the school. He and his friend walked down the grassy shoulder of FM 1485. As they got to the intersection of Kidd Cemetery rode Javier Islas Correa, age 28, struck him with his truck and kept going.
Not long before that several people called the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and reported the Dodge truck north on US 59 all over the road. Aubury LaBuff of LaBuff Towing was on Gene Campbell when he heard the call go out. He drove to FM 1485 and US 59 in an attempt to spot the vehicle.
In Montgomery County when a call like this goes out most wreckers step up to the plate to assist. Once it is heard on their scanners they start looking too. Some say it is to get the tow when the vehicle is actually stopped. But most including law enforcement officials know they are helping to possibly save the life of a friend or neighbor.
As LaBuff got to the intersection of US59 and FM 1485 he saw the suspect vehicle turn under the freeway and start north. He made a u-turn and started to follow it. At the same time calling Montgomery County Sheriff;’s Office to report it.
What he saw next changed his life forever as it did with many others. The truck struck Kendrick Owens and then kept going. Fighting the urge to stop he saw others stopping so he decided to follow the truck and call his locations out to dispatchers.
As he did this, Kendricks friend flagged down help who started assisting Kendrick.
LaBuff followed the truck to 17293 Oak Grove Lane just a few miles up the road. When Javier Correa reached his house and got out of his pickup to go inside, LaBuff says he told Correa he struck a child and Correa denied it. However, LaBuff says Correa emerged from the house a short time later and when LaBuff told him the police and an ambulance were en route, Correa said he did not need an ambulance and would surrender to police.
Trooper Justin Lopez with the Texas Department of Public Safety went to Correa’s house, took him into custody, and returned him to the scene.
Lopez said Correa smelled of alcohol and admitted he had been drinking Saturday morning.
Police records show Correa was convicted of Driving While Intoxicated in Harris County in November, 2005 and served 10 days in jail. In 2000, Correa pleaded guilty to “assault causes bodily injury” in Harris County.
Jared Sheridan, the 13-year-old who was walking with Kendrick Owens, said they saw a truck coming toward them at a high rate of speed and both tried to “run for the ditch.” Sheridan was walking on the side further from the road and was able to avoid being struck, but saw the truck hit his friend. By the time he blinked, Sheridan said, (Owens) was already in the grass.
Friday morning Correa plead guilty n the 221st District Court in Conroe. He decided to let the judge set his punishment which on Intoxicated Manslaughter carries twenty years and on the Failure to Stop and Render Aid 10-years.
Kendricks mother, Rhonda West took the stand and told of her talking to Kendrick on the phone. He had spent the night with his father Roger Sheridan and his friend Jared. They decided to meet at the school just down the street. The next call she got was someone telling her that Kendrick had been in an accident and to immediately go to Hermann Hospital in Houston.
When she arrived Kendrick was already there. Flown in by Life Flight. She told the court she got to spend one hour with him before he died. During that hour he wasn’t conscious. She talked about her sleepless nights, memories of her son.
Correa’s family was in the courtroom also. His aunt described him as a good man who loved horses but did drink and it bothered her. She told the court how she had discussed it with him in the past. She said he openly drank at parties and family get gatherings. Yet when asked about his wife she could not even testify if he was still married. She told the court she did not know. She asked that he not go to prison for a long time so he could watch his two children grow.
His father took the stand next and slowly spoke through a translator. He told of his son growing up and his love for horses came from his side of the family. He to admitted his son had a drinking problem. He to said he knew his son should be punished but that he needed to watch his children grow. Ten photos were shown of his children together, family gatherings, and other family events.
Mike Shirley, the Chief Prosecutor for the Montgomery County District Attorneys Office then asked Judge Lisa Michalk for the maximum sentence. He told the court how Correa wasn’t just drinking the night before but still at almost 9:00a.m. in the morning had a blood alcohol level of .29. Almost four times the legal limit. His past history of drinking and driving and his assault charges. He stated even in jail Correa was involved in an altercation.
Shirley continued, holding the ten photos he clicked off each one comparing it to how Correa can still do things depicted in the photos but Kendricks Family could not. Shirley’s hands shaking and his voice almost broken as he reminded the court how there would be no more of Kendricks family seeing him, no more birthday parties. No more holidays.
During the entire hearing Correa showed no remorse. He continued just looking ahead or down at the table.
Judge Lisa Michalk. appearing shaken also pronounced sentence on Correa. Twenty years, the maximum for Intoxicated Manslaughter and ten-years for Failure to Stop and Render Aid. She too praised Aubrey LaBuff who without him Correa may never have been found.
VIDEO OF TODAY AND HEARING
MARCH 6, 2010 ACCIDENT VIDEO
MARCH 6, 2010 CANDLE LIGHT SERVICE