Around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Celeste Reineck dropped off some friends in the Benbrook area and headed back to her father's mobile home on Lake Granbury, where she and her older brother had thrown a birthday party hours earlier.
But Reineck never made it back to Granbury, and she'll never see her brother again.
Reineck, 16, was involved in a wreck in south Benbrook and, while she was in the emergency room, a fire broke out in the mobile home, trapping and killing her brother, Calvin, 18, and five other partygoers who were asleep inside.
"I feel terrible for the other families involved," said Kurt Reineck, who was out of town while the party was going on. "I lost my son. ... I don't know how I'm going to go on.
"My daughter is still in the hospital. She is still alive. My son was 18, and I loved him. I will tell you that. I loved him more than anything. Everybody that knew him loved him. He was a good kid, and I'll never be the same."
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but officials do not suspect foul play. They won't release the victims' names until they're confirmed through medical records.
Friends and relatives, however, identified three other victims as Savannah Lynn Marrero; Alexis Schooley, 17; and Vivian Rodriguez, 18.
Officials, friends and relatives said that Calvin Reineck, a 2009 graduate of Mesa High School in White Settlement, lived with his father at the home in the 4500 block of Wildwood Circle, about six miles southeast of downtown Granbury and about 38 miles southwest of Fort Worth.
Celeste Reineck lived with her mother in Fort Worth, but friends said she had recently moved in with her brother and father.
On Sunday, while their father was away, the siblings threw a party to celebrate Schooley's 17th birthday, friends said. The party got loud enough to wake the neighbors but, by the early morning, many partygoers had fallen asleep. That's when Celeste Reineck agreed to drive some friends back to their homes in the Fort Worth area.
Awakening to a fire
Cody Rubalcaba, 18, who said he attended Richard Milburn Academy, a charter school in Fort Worth, with Celeste Reineck, Schooley and other teens at the party, said he fell asleep inside the Reineck home about 2 a.m. He said he woke up coughing, with a fire raging around him.
"I took a breath and tried to walk but I fell down," Rubalcaba said.
Rubalcaba said he escaped out a window, took a few breaths, and then went back in to help a man he'd met that night who had collapsed on the floor.
"He was coughing, so I thought he was awake," Rubalcaba said. "But then I couldn't get him to move. I kept shaking him to wake up, but he wouldn't respond."
Rubalcaba, overwhelmed by the smoke, struggled to get out so he could catch a few more breaths of fresh air before returning for the man, he said. But when Rubalcaba tried to re-enter, the smoke had severely thickened and he couldn't see.
Rubalcaba said he heard a woman calling for him and he guided her and another young man to him, helping them out the window. The man on the floor died in the fire, he said.
"They told me if I went back in, I wouldn't make it," Rubalcaba said. "All we could do then was to find neighbors to call for help."
Firefighters from several departments were dispatched about 6 a.m. and battled the blaze for more than an hour before it was extinguished, said Hood County Fire Marshal Brian Fine. The three survivors were taken to area hospitals, where they were treated and released.
Firefighters found victims throughout the lakefront home.
Saved by a wreck
While firefighters were battling the blaze in Granbury, Benbrook police were investigating a wreck on U.S. 377 South involving a car that had hit a tree.
Benbrook police Sgt. John Van Ness said officers were dispatched to the wreck at 5:45 a.m. in the 11000 block of Benbrook Boulevard; the car's occupant, identified by relatives and friends as Celeste Reineck, was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
Friends said Stacey Reineck raced to the hospital to be with her daughter, who sustained a broken arm and leg. A short time later, someone at the hospital told her that there had been a fire at the Granbury house and that her son and her daughter's friends -- including her daughter's best friend, Vivian Rodriguez -- had died.
"Vivian was a wonderful person," said Hope Walters, 17, of Fort Worth, a close friend of Rodriguez who had met Calvin and Celeste Reineck at a previous party at the Granbury house. "She was just a really amazing person. She was an artist for sure. She loved to draw. She was a take-everything-as-it-comes kind of person. Everybody loved Vivian."
Tracey Meeker, a close friend of Stacey Reineck, said that they are taking solace in the fact that some of the partygoers left before the fire broke out.
"It's terrible," Meeker said. "But it's a miracle her daughter wasn't asleep with the rest of those kids. Even though she is hurt and severely damaged, everyone is counting their blessings."
Celeste Reineck had surgery Monday and was in stable condition, relatives and friends said. For now, the family has decided not to tell her what happened after she left the house.
"Celeste has no clue that her brother has passed," said another family friend, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the situation. "She doesn't even know there was a fire. We're keeping her totally isolated."
Staff researcher Cathy Belcher contributed to this report.