At 7:50 p.m. last Friday, Conroe Police and Fire Department, along with Montgomery County Hospital District medics responded to a reported major accident with a victim in the moving lane of traffic on I-45 northbound, just past FM 3083. The first units on-scene had difficulty approaching because traffic was at a dead stop. They arrived to find 49-year-old Lois Horton, of Willis, lying in the left moving lane of traffic, already deceased.
According to witnesses, a 2007 Kawasaki motorcycle entered the freeway at Loop 336, following another bike and headed north. Witnesses said the driver, later identified as 65-year-old Michael Lyles (of the same Willis address as the victim) veered into the barrier wall on the left side of the inside lane just after passing under the FM 3083 overpass, for no obvious reason, causing the bike to strike the barrier wall several times, ejecting Horton. Lyles and the bike he was following kept going.
The same witnesses said they saw Horton sit up, appearing dazed. They were stopped and attempting to block traffic and try to reach Horton, but before they were able to do so, a three-wheeled Goldwing motorcycle approached. The bike continued at the posted speed, not knowing why the cars were stopped, and tried to pass them on the left. Witnesses said Horton saw the bike coming toward her and raised her arms in front of her in a defensive motion. The Goldwing’s driver, 60-year-old Ezra Powell of Willis, did not see Horton on the unlit freeway and ran over her. Witnesses reached her and found her unresponsive. Authorities believe she was dying or already dead.
Conroe Police say a witness then did something that should be noted and discouraged. The witness found Horton’s cell phone and took upon themselves to use it to find and notify her family of her death. As a result, Horton’s mother showed up on the scene of the accident and had to identify her deceased daughter that way and now must live with that memory.
Powell fought to keep his bike from rolling over. His wife, 59-year-old Sue Powell, was riding on the rear of the bike and also fought to stay on. The force of her body broke off the rear right side armrest. The couple was returning from a trip to Corpus Christi. Powell was able to safely stop his damaged bike a short distance down the road. The couple suffered only minor scrapes and bruises.
Conroe Police were assisted in their investigation by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office Vehicular Crime Unit.
A Conroe officer found Lyles at his Willis home. He was taken into custody for Failure to Stop and Render Aid. A mandatory blood draw was also done, but the results could take weeks. Lyles was then booked into the Montgomery County Jail. He has since been released on$ a 25,000 bond.
While investigating officers worked the crash scene, several others were tasked with closing the freeway off and forcing vehicles to exit at FM 3083. Around 10 p.m., a pickup truck drove around the roadblock, sending officers in the roadway at the crash scene scurrying for cover. That driver was cited. Then, approximately 30 minutes before the freeway was reopened, six vehicles, including two 18-wheelers, also drove around the roadblock. Once again, officers were forced to run for cover. All of those vehicles were stopped just as they approached the crash area.
The freeway reopened shortly after 1 a.m.
Montgomery County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Lanny Moriarty ordered Eickenhorst Funeral Directors to transport Horton to the Montgomery County Forensic Center for autopsy.
Additional charges could be forthcoming on Lyles.
Note: Police ask anyone who is on the scene of a major accident before law enforcement arrives to refrain from making notification or posting anything online that might be seen by the family or others who would notify them. It presents a danger to the family members, other drivers, and emergency responders when they try to rush to a scene in a state of hysteria. They may also make things difficult by unintentionally interfering with life-saving efforts or, as in this particular case, the family member(s) may see something horrific that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Law enforcement should make notification and nobody else. In this case, things did not happen that way and MCPR was asked specifically to mention this mistake in the hopes the situation would not be repeated.