911 callers describe deadly crash in southern Tarrant

Posted Tuesday, Jul. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Audio: 911 calls describe horrific crash

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BREAKING NEWS: Sheriff Dee Anderson said at a news conference this afternoon that alcohol and speed were factors in the multi-vehicle wreck on Burleson-Retta Road last month that killed four people.

Reporter Bill Miller is at the news conference now. Follow his updates on Twitter @Bill_MillerST.

The original report appears below.

Frantic 911 calls made Saturday night from a deadly, multiple-vehicle crash describe the scene as “bad” with kids “lying in ditches,” according to recordings released Thursday by the Tarrant County Sheriff’s office.

Garrett Ballard, a 16-year-old survivor from the crash that killed three Good Samaritans and a stranded motorist, told the dispatcher that “we need some ambulances” at the scene on Burleson-Retta Road.

Ballard told the dispatcher that he was riding in a truck that had flipped at the scene.

Authorities received numerous 911 calls Saturday night, just seconds after four vehicles were involved in the deadly crash on the two-lane road just east of Spinks Airport in southern Tarrant County.

A mother and daughter, a local youth minister and the stranded motorist they were trying to help were killed in the crash and nine people were injured.

Hollie Boyles, 52, and her daughter, Shelby Boyles, 21, left their house nearby to help Breanna Mitchell, 24, of Lillian, whose sport utility vehicle had broken down late Saturday in the 1500 block of Burleson-Retta Road, according to the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department.

Brian Jennings, 41, a youth minister at Alsbury Baptist Church, was driving past and pulled over to assist. Jennings had been at a party for his son, who just graduated from Burleson High School, a friend said.

One of the 911 calls was from Kevin McConnell, Jennings’ friend, who drove up on the scene a few minutes after the wreck. He had been following Jennings.

“Got a bad accident on Burleson-Retta Road,” McConnell told the dispatcher, with screams audible in the background. At one point, McConnell told someone to “come here, come here. I need you to sit here and pray.”

In another 911 call, a frantic motorist, Sherrell Winnett, advised a dispatcher that “kids are lying in ditches, on a street.”

Winnett, of Burleson, said Thursday that she was eastbound on the road Saturday night when she saw the SUV in a ditch.

“I turned around to see if I could help, but by then I saw the three women standing near it, so I drove down the street and turned around again to go home,” Winnett said in an interview with the Star-Telegram.

In the seconds it took for her to turn around, Jennings had stopped his white truck on the road to help. She then witnessed the crash.

“... I saw car parts flying around and a big cloud of dust,” Winnett said. “Out of that cloud of dust, I saw this white truck go across the road and hit a tree.”

Within seconds, Winnett said she saw a little boy rolling on the road.

“He stopped about five feet in front of my car,” the Burleson woman said.

Investigators say they think the red truck — the one Ballard was in — slammed into Mitchell’s SUV about 11:45 p.m Saturday. Two other vehicles, including Jennings’ pickup, were damaged. A Volkswagen driven by Ashlyn Evans, 18, of Burleson, with a 14-year-old passenger also was hit.

The red pickup was driven by a 16-year-old with seven teenage passengers from Hurst, Fort Worth and North Richland Hills. Ballard was one of the seven passengers.

Some of those in the red pickup were apparently students from Keller Central High School, according to social media websites. Two of those in the truck were reportedly in critical condition, according to a MedStar official.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has begun a “source investigation” in connection with the crash, said Carolyn Beck, a TABC spokeswoman in Austin. That does not mean that investigators have confirmed that alcohol was involved, but when people are killed, the agency opens a source investigation to try to learn whether someone under 21 was illegally served alcohol, or if an adult was over served, Beck said.

The Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department is also continuing its investigation into the crash.

The stranded motorist who died, Mitchell, was a chef at the City Club in Fort Worth, according to Peggie Muir, general manager of the club in the D.R. Horton Tower.

Muir described Mitchell as a “delightful young woman.”

“She had recently graduated from culinary arts school and this was her first real job as a trained chef,” Muir said in an email to the Star-Telegram. “Often when I saw her in the kitchen or in the back hallways, she would grin real big and ask me, "Have I told you how much I love my job at City Club? ... She was a bright star in our little City Club life.”

Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763

Twitter: @mingoramirezjr

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1500 block of Burleson-Retta Road, Fort Worth, TX
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