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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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