CONROE- On a holiday weekend, with graduation less than a week away, two best friends and Conroe High School varsity football players went out for an evening with friends, but before the next day one was dead and the other facing the possibility of years in prison.
Police believe the high speed crash that killed 17-year-old Jordan Wilson Sunday night was the result of street racing. Wilson was pronounced dead on arrival at Conroe Regional Medical Center but the driver, 18-year-old Johnnie O’Neal, was reportedly walking and talking on the scene before he was transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital in The Woodlands with non-life threatening injuries.
Upon his release from the hospital, O’Neal will be arrested and charged with manslaughter, which is defined by the Texas Penal Code as “recklessly causing the death of another.” According to Conroe Police Sgt. Jon Buckholtz who heads up the agency’s Community Oriented Response Team which investigates traffic accidents, O’Neal may face additional charges related to street racing, or “exhibition of acceleration.” There was no evidence of illegal drugs or alcohol in the vehicle, Buckholtz said. However, if O’Neal’s blood tests reveal the presence of either, that would also affect charges against him.
A horrific scene
The crash occurred around 9:40 p.m. in the 1900 block of Airport Road near Byrdsong Ct. when the northbound 2006 Ford Fusion sedan belonging to O’Neal’s older sister left the road, struck a culvert, became airborne then ripped through a brick and wrought iron fence before striking and wrapping halfway around a tree on the passenger side.
Buckholtz said O’Neal was ejected at some point before the car struck the tree. O’Neal initially appeared to have only minor injuries, but on Monday Buckholtz said O’Neal’s injuries were more serious than originally thought and his adrenaline likely accounted for how he seemed at the crash site.
The car struck the culvert, fence and tree with such force that the engine and transmission were launched around 100 yards, with the engine landing in a ditch on the opposite side of the road north of the car and the transmission in the middle of the street. A piece of the debris punctured and flattened the tire of a Conroe Fire truck, which had to be towed from the scene by a heavy duty wrecker. Parts of the vehicle, the culvert and the fence were scattered all over the street, yard and driveway of the home belonging to Saturnino and Martha Iracheta.
The couple was outside watering plants with their 3-year-old daughter at the time of the accident, and Martha Iracheta’s description of being in close proximity sounded more like a statement from someone in a war zone.
She first heard the distinctive sound of a speeding car approaching, and then the squeal of brakes trying desperately to stop as the car went out of control near the corner of her property.
“Then I heard it hit (the culvert) and it was spinning in the air and then it hit the tree,” Iracheta said.
She only caught a glimpse of the car as it traveled through her fence and into the tree because she could see the explosion of debris headed toward where her daughter stood on their concrete driveway and she had to take action.
“I had to throw myself on my daughter because brick and pieces of metal with fire on them went everywhere,” Martha Iracheta said.
None of the pieces struck the family, but Iracheta said her daughter was very upset from the experience and had to be taken inside and comforted. Iracheta said it was the second time someone crashed through her fence. On weekends, she said, Airport Road becomes a virtual speedway with heavy traffic.
A deadly game
Buckholtz of the Conroe Police Department said witnesses told officers the car was involved in a street race and traveling at about 120 miles per hour before the crash occurred. Their preliminary accident investigation rated the car’s crash speed at 100 miles per hour. Following the crash, the car’s speedometer was stopped at what appeared to be 106 miles per hour. Buckholtz said C.O.R.T. investigators would do accident reconstruction today that should yield more precise results.
According to witnesses, three cars were racing, Buckholtz said, and O’Neal’s car had accelerated and left the other two behind when it crashed. Only one person, a passenger in one of the other two vehicles, stayed to see if he could help Wilson and O’Neal. He then remained on-scene and answered the investigating officers’ questions. When officers cleared the scene, they located the other subjects involved and ultimately seized one of their vehicles. Buckholtz said the information they gathered will be taken to the District Attorney’s Office for possible charges against a second driver.
When Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam heard about the crash, he was about to leave his voluntary lakeside post where he assisted with the county’s No Refusal Weekend which targeted driving or boating while intoxicated. Diepraam went to the accident scene where he carefully examined the wreckage, debris and damage and markings left behind from all angles.
Devastated family tries to understand
Melvin and Davetta Wilson proudly displayed their son’s kindergarten graduation photo and his senior portrait as they spoke with reporters on Monday.
Davetta Wilson called her son “a very good child who was in church all of his life” and loved the Lord, sports and everyone around him.”
Jordan Wilson was a CHS Tigers defensive lineman, was named Most Valuable Player of the coaches’ All-District 14-5A team, and honorable mention 2008 Class 5a All-State team and recently signed with the Air Force Academy, where he planned to play football and study civil engineering on a four-year scholarship.
“The Air Force Academy found Jordan,” Wilson said. “They were scouting and they found the capability that Jordan possessed, the drive he had, his motivation and his endurance in sports, but also his grade point average and his aptitude – it was all there.”
Wilson said she, her husband and Jordan’s two sisters, Adrienne and Iesha found strength in hearing how he touched so many lives.
Melvin Wilson said Jordan was a good son and a good human being who had his priorities straight and was looking forward to a bright future.
The family learned of the accident when a friend called and they rushed to the hospital where they were given the tragic news.
“We were never prepared, he had a future – a promising future ahead of him,” Davetta Wilson said. “We’re trying to get a hold of why, but we can only trust that he’s in a better place right now.”
The couple said they had no animosity toward O’Neal.
“We just hope and pray that it works out for him,” Davetta Wilson said. “Just having to deal with this accident is enough for him, we don’t want to see anything else happen.”
Wilson would have turned 18 on June 7.