Casey McKinley, 19 of Grangerland who was indicted last month on three counts of manslaughter for killing three in an automobile accident plead guilty Thursday morning.
The crash occurred around 10:15 a.m. at Porter Road (Fm 1314) and S. Loop 336 and claimed the lives of 50-year-old Craig Rector, his girlfriend’s daughter, 20-year-old Felicia Hicks and her common-law husband, Freedom Fitch, 24. All were Splendora residents.
According to police, the victims were in a Mazda sedan traveling northbound on FM 1314 when witnesses say a Dodge Ram 3500 Dually pickup, driven by McKinley, was traveling at a high rate of speed eastbound on Loop 336 and ran a red light where those roads intersect. The pickup struck the side of the Mazda and pushed it into an older model Mercedes sedan that stopped in the westbound lanes of Loop 336 waiting to turn onto FM 1314. Another westbound vehicle was also struck when the Mercedes slid into it.
Rector, the Mazda’s driver, was pronounced dead on the scene. A PHI medical helicopter loaded Fitch and began to take off for the Texas Medical Center, but he went into traumatic arrest and they landed. Like Hicks, Fitch was loaded into a ground ambulance and transported to Conroe Regional Medical Center where both were pronounced dead.
McKinley and the driver of one of the westbound vehicles were taken by ground ambulances to a local hospital. McKinley was treated and released to law enforcement.
Rector was a father of five, and had legal custody of his two grandchildren ages 1 and 3 years, according to his family. Hicks and Fitch shared a 2-year-old daughter, Annabelle. None of the three children were with them at the time of the crash.
The Conroe Police Department Community Oriented Response Team conducted the crash investigation and was joined on-scene by Montgomery County prosecutor Warren Diepraam. McKinley, a 2009 graduate of Caney Creek High School had no prior criminal record as an adult and was a student at Texas A&M, Galveston. He was released from the county jail following an October 22, 2009 bond reduction hearing.
According to District Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam, McKinley was sentenced to five years deferred probation, 30-days in jail, have his drivers license suspended for a year, and go through random drug testing. In addition he must spend 250 of community service talking to students about reckless driving and to maintain the memorial site. He could have gotten up to twenty years.
The day of the crash witnesses said he was driving reckless and weaving. It was later determined that he had a heart condition which caused the delay in being indicted. Diepraam feels his condition played a big part in his crash but not in hi reckless driving to the intersection.
In the courtroom before he was sentenced family members of the victims gave statements.
“He said he forgave Casey,” Diepraam said. “He also said he’s glad Casey is being held accountable. Felicia’s father wanted to give a statement but couldn’t because he was so emotional, so I read the statement for him. There wasn’t a dry eye in the courtroom.”
McKinley is still in college.