A four-year-old girl was killed after an 18-wheeler struck her vehicle on Interstate 10 near Crosby-Lynchburg, sending it over the guardrail to the embankment some 13-feet below.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Eduardo Rivera described the heavy emotions he and other deputies experienced recovering the little girl’s body.
“It is never easy,” Rivera said. “I’ve been on the job for 28 years, and it is never easy.”
The girl was killed just after 6 a.m. on the highway’s westbound lanes at the bridge over the San Jacinto River Wednesday morning, HCSO deputies said.
The girl was in a Mitsubishi Eclipse driven by her father, 35, and with her mother, 24, also inside the vehicle.
Sean Teare, Harris County District Attorney vehicular crimes division chief, told how the four-year-old died.
“The 18-wheeler hit the car, forced it up over the guardrail and it fell in between the two sides of I-10 on the shores of the channel,” Teare said.
Teare said the girl was pronounced dead at the scene and the father flown by helicopter to the hospital. The mother escaped serious injury.
Teare added it was too early to talk about charges being filed on anyone.
“In some cases, it is pretty clear cut. But in this case, we don’t know yet,” Teare said. “There are a lot of investigative avenues. We have to look at speed, download things. We have some video from the truck, and the truck driver is being cooperative. We’ve also got to get toxicology from everybody. There is no indication that impairment played a role in this, but we are going to rule it out before we rule it in.”
The driver of the 18-wheeler was not injured, deputies said.
Teare said they are investigating whether the little girl was strapped to a car seat or not.
“This is just the beginning of this,” he said. “We cannot lose sight of this and that a little four-year-old lost her life today. When you stand over the bodies of little children like this, it sharpens your focus.”
Teare added they were not able to find any car seats at the wreck scene.
“At the very least, this should be a reminder to everyone,” Teare said. “We are in the middle of ‘Click it or Ticket’ Month with (the Texas Department of Transportation). Retrain yourself and everyone, but make sure that all the little ones are in the proper car seats. We don’t know if she would have lost her life if she had been properly restrained. But it certainly wouldn’t have hurt. But, still, she lost her life.”
Sheriff authorities are looking at the truck video, according to Teare.
“It seems like a normal merging of two or three cars,” he said. “Anyone in Houston knows this happens all of the time. This is just one of those convergence events that ended in a horrible tragedy. As of right now, it doesn’t look like anyone was grossly negligent, but before we make that statement for sure, we will make sure.”
Rivera said the mother told deputies they were from Honduras and had arrived in the U.S. about a month ago, looking for a better life. He added they believe the husband was driving the Mitsubishi.
Teare said the plan is to investigate every angle.
“In a situation like this, someone is at fault, there is blame to be laid,” Teare said. “Whether that rises to the level of criminal action is something we are not even able to speculate at this point. But rest assured, every stone will be overturned. We are going to look at every piece of evidence we can. Eventually, we will come to a decision if any charges will come.”