EAST MONTGOMERY COUNTY- Just before 4 a.m. Thursday, emergency crews responded to the crash in the 11200 block of on Daw Collins Rd. north of FM 2090 in the Splendora area, where they found a pickup had struck a tree, sheering it in half and dropping it across the road, with the rest of the tree embedded in the driver’s side door.
As medics worked to stabilize the seriously injured driver, later identified as Oklahoma resident Jessie Lawhon, the passenger sat watching on the tree in the road. The passenger, 19-year-old Brian Seitan of Cleveland, sustained only minor injuries and was joined by several other teens.
Splendora firefighters first cut the windshield to gain access, but soon realized the victim was trapped beneath the steering wheel and the dash itself. Using the “jaws of life” tool, they hooked a chain to the frame and the other around the steering column. Pulling it together, the steering wheel lifted somewhat.
It was then determined the tree was supporting the truck, so it was shored up for stabilization as a firefighter used a chainsaw to cut the tree at the base. Even after the tree was cut through, the truck door was gripping it like a hand.
Senior firefighters said it took some “old school” techniques to get the job done, such as using the fire department Explorer with a chain hooked to it to pull the tree out.
The door, crumpled from the tree and resting against the driver, had to be removed. It took more time to cut the door hinges and electrical connection and the door still refused to release.
Several firefighters, wrecker drivers, and police officers joined forces to pull the door free. Unfortunately, the driver remained trapped.
After removing several components such as the radio and accessories, the driver was finally free and medics were able to see and start to treat his severely injured leg.
PHI Air Medical responded, landing on FM 2090 at Daw Collins, as the fire departments tried to stop traffic, with vehicles continuing to ignore the emergency lights and try to go around.
A woman holding a small child, who said she was a family member, got out of her vehicle. Ignoring the orders of emergency crews, she sneaked onto the scene, getting dangerously close to the helicopter’s rotors.
Lawhon was transported by PHI to Hermann Hospital in Houston’s Texas Medical Center.
The driver of the second vehicle was 18-year-old James Mcgehee of Splendora, who was determined to have alcohol in his system. His vehicle was towed, but he was allowed to leave the scene.
Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Martin said witnesses stated the teens were drag racing.
Ironically, the crash came two days after a Montgomery County grand jury indicted two Conroe teens in connection with a motor vehicle street racing accident that claimed the life of a Conroe High School senior football star last Memorial Day weekend.