Alcohol and speed are to blame for the crash the led to the death of two Atascocita High School students Wednesday in northeast Harris County, authorities said.
According to investigators, 17-year-old Jaggar Smith was driving a 2008 Nissan Altima with two 16-year-old girls in the car when he lost control in the 18300 block of Timber Forest and slammed into a tree. The impact split the vehicle in two and killed Chloe Robison, who was in the back seat.
Salma Gomez, who was in the passenger seat, was taken to a hospital by LifeFlight where she died.
Both victims were incoming juniors at Atascocita High School.
Smith, a student at Kingwood High School, had been drinking, deputies said. He suffered minor injuries.
"It's just very tragic and we see this way, way too often, especially seeing that alcohol was a factor," Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.
Deputies said all three teens were wearing seatbelts.
Witnesses told investigators that Smith was going 70 to 80 mph in a 40 mph zone.
He is charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter, officials said.
Atascocita High School had trained counselors on campus the Thursday and Friday after the crash, and a table was set up in the school rotunda for flowers and cards.
The Woodlands Church, across from the school, also had a service on the evening of the crash for students and families to reflect and pray.
A memorial to the girls at the scene of the crash was piled with flowers, stuffed animals and messages to Robison and Gomez. A sign there asked that in lieu of flowers, donations were being accepted by the Robison family to establish a scholarship in her name.
Smith posted a $60,000 bond and was released from jail that Wednesday evening. He appeared in court on Thursday, July 26, where prosecutors say he admitted to drinking a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 before getting behind the wheel. Under Smith's bond conditions, he cannot drive, must have an alcohol monitor inside his home, and has a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. His next hearing is Sept. 27.
The Smith family released a statement Wednesday: “We are all saddened and beyond dismayed by the events that have placed us in a position to make this statement. Our family extends our most sincere and heartfelt prayers and condolences to all of the victims in this tragedy. Two beautiful young lives were needlessly ended, and another young life was irreparably altered forever. Three families have been completely upended and will never be the same as a result of what has occurred.
We are all in shock and under a fog of confusion due to this event. We are gratified by the public comments made by other students that show Jaggar as we know him: intelligent, loving, full of life, and a sweet young man.
We have been and will continue to cooperate with the authorities conducting the investigation.
We ask the public and media to please extend privacy, both to the victims and to our own family, as all of us try process this tragic event, and begin the process of grieving, eventually healing, and hopefully recovering at some point in the distant future.”
The family’s attorney, Chip B. Lewis, released follow-up statement Thursday: “Jaggar and his family cannot adequately express the depths of their despair over the loss of two of the most beautiful live imaginable. We will have no further public comment as no words could ever fill the hearts of the families and friends of Chloe and Salma.”
This story comes to us from our news partner, Click2houston.com.