Triple fatal teen driver faces judge

The case of the teen driver charged in an October 16 crash that killed three people went before 359th District Court Judge Kathleen Hamilton in Conroe on Wednesday. Casey Lynn McKinley, 18, of Grangerland, is charged with three counts of manslaughter. The trial was reset for April 6, but the trials of the deceased’s families began last October and they were on-hand for the reset.

The crash occurred on a sunny Friday morning, 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.

Click the arrow to view on-scene video.

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 Oct. 22 bond reduction hearing.

Since then, the victims’ families have erected three crosses at the accident site. After court on Wednesday, some of the victims’ family members went to the site.

Pamela Blair remains devastated at the loss of her brother, Craig Rector.

The crash occurred the day before Blair’s last birthday, which was spent making funeral preparations and answering a 3-year-old who kept asking, “Where’s my Pawpaw?”
Blair said she told him “Pawpaw went to see Jesus.”

But the loss did not end with Craig. His niece, Blair’s daughter, was pregnant with twins and lost one within days of his death of the second within two weeks. The family cannot help feeling the stress of Craig’s death played a role.

The family buried Craig near his elderly parents’ home in Nacogdoches and their first Christmas without him was spent at his gravesite.

Blair redecorated her brother’s crash site for Valentine’s Day. She says her family is confident in Diepraam’s abilities as a prosecutor, and prays for justice, though nothing will bring back her brother.

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7 Comments

  1. Pamela A Baird

    My name is Pamela Baird, I am the sister of Craig Steven Rector. I would like to speak on behalf of my family. We are not a “Vindictive” family, as we have been labeled by some of the Mckinley supports. We are ALL just devastated at the loss of our loved one, as I am sure you would be if it was one of your own. We are just wanting answers as to WHY??

    . Why was he driving at such a HIGH rate of speed,70 plus mph(speed limit 50 mph).
    . Why did he not acknowledge that the light was RED.
    . Why were there NO tire marks on the road, where he tried to avoid causing this tragic accident that involed 5 vechicles, killing 3 innocent people. And to know that it could have easily been more due to the HIGH rate of speed he was traveling.

    The police report that I received from the Conroe Police Dept. states, and I will quote “Casey Mckinley was traveling E/B on loop 336 at a high rate of speed. He disregarded a red light at the intersection of S.loop 336 and FM 1314. A witness advised me, officer Jeff Smith that the truck that Mckinley was driving had ALMOST struck her at the intersection of S.loop 336 and IH-45 prior to causing this tragic accident”

    The vehicle my brother was driving was so mangled that it took “jaws of life” to remove his body from the car. My brother died at the scene. ALL 3 of the deceased were closed caskets. If you could only imagine how it felt to know I could not see my brother, just one more time.

    My heart goes out to Casey and the Mckinley family, BUT the pain that our families have endured due to our loss is so unbereable. The pictures of the crash site, vehicle, and the crosses are a daily reminder of how tragic our loved ones died. I am aware that nothing will ever bring back my brother or the other victims. I am just very concerned about my parents, for they are both in their 70’s and this has taken a toll on their health. This was there only son. The only confort that they have is the fact that he was laid to rest less than a mile from their home (Nacogdoches) and they are able to visit the grave site.

    The families of the deceased have NO control over the fate of the defendant, Casey Lynn Mckinley and his punishment. It is in the hands of the court system now.

    Please be RESPECTFUL of any comments you my have, for ALL families involved are grieving. May Gods Blessing be with us all.

  2. popcornlinda

    I have a 20 yr old son, hes a marine, he took driver education , defensive driving and a visit to the morgue, at an early age of 15!!!, The young man speeding, running a red light and no telling what else, from what I understand he was passing cars like he was in an extreme hurry, he may have been on a cell phone or even texting, the way alot of young people do, now a days, BUT it is us parents who need to be sure to teach our children the horrible results of bad choices… It would make more sense he the killer was drunk or on drugs, but to say poor guy he has to live with killing 3 persons, is nuts….I knew Steve (Craig)for 35 years, one of the nicest guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, Even when we were teens, drinking and stuff we stayed in the neighborhood and partied….he was always careful about how he treated others …he did not deserve this, The Killer Deserves to be punished to the full extent of the law……Otherwise He would be back on the road driving carelessly again….OMG He took the parents away from some young babies and grandbabies…..

  3. leland

    ACCIDENT! Is this what you are calling it (ccp). I have been following this story since it happen (10/16/09). The articles from ALL the newspapers that I have read are very disturbing. This young MAN was traveling at a HIGH rate of speed (70+mph)and ran a red light… WITTNESS, say that he was driving very erratic prior to killing these 3 innocent people. I know ACCIDENTS do occur, BUT the fact that he was speeding , ran a red light makes me wonder (and I am sure ALOT of other people)what he was doing at the time this happen. Where could he have been going that was so important that he had to do this to these people and there families.
    I can only imagine how these families must feel (3 closed caskets) to know how tragic their loved ones died. I am sure they are reminded of it daily as they look at the pictures and drive by the crash site where 3 crosses have been erected. There lifes will never be the same. My prayers go out to all families involed.

  4. shelia

    i know the victims sister and i dont feel that they are asking for anything that is not fair the boy apperantly was speeding. which is against the law so there for he broke the law. he needs to pay for his mistakes

  5. ReneeS

    I agree with ccp. If he had been drinking or doing drugs, things would be different. If he had held a gun to thier heads it would have been different, but he had an ACCIDENT!!!!! Every single person who drives has a chance of having an accident and killing someone no matter how safe of a driver you think you are!

    I didn’t know him, nor did i know the people who died, but I don’t think i would feel diffrently either way. accidents happen.

    This kid has to live with killing 3 people for the rest of his life. to me, that is punishment enough.

  6. jessicalp

    It is unfortunate that it takes a young man to be convicted so hard inorder for people to think twice about their driving habits. But, should a message be sent to every young man or person for that matter that it is ok to speed or to not pay attention to the road like we should do? It should not take such a high price but which is higher? The loss of lives; of brothers, sisters, children, parents, or grandparents? Or the loss of freedom due to a mistake. This young MAN has the opportunity to change lives in a positive way because his eyes are now open. These family members do not and they’re not the ones who made the mistake but they get to pay for it. These family member who died didn’t have a choice about whether or not this young MAN sped and they didn’t have a choice over how well he paid attention to the road. They didn’t have a choice because he took it from them. There is a BIG difference between vindictiveness and justice. I have no doubt that this MAN feels aweful but that’s nothing compared to how these people’s small children and other family members feel. My prayers are with young man and these people that died and all their families.

  7. ccp

    This was a tragic, sad thing…yes, Casey ran a redlight and an ACCIDENT occurred because of that-but should this ACCIDENT cost this young man his entire future?? I truly feel for the family who lost their loved ones, but I also feel for Casey and his family. Haven’t we all at some point had a close call while driving, and been within a mere moment of a tragic accident?? I could understand the feeling to “get Casey” that I have percieved from the family & law enforcement were he under the influence of alcohol or drugs when this occurred, but to my understanding that’s not the case-he was simply a young man, having recently graduated and begun college, who made a mistake and ran a red light-why the public vindictiveness?? We are faced daily with tragedy, and nothing is going to bring back the people who died in this wreck-not ruining this young man’s future, or putting him in prison, NOTHING…

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