Fort Worth

Woman driving 83 mph when she hit car, killing two in 2015, affidavit says

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A Benbrook woman with a history of speeding violations was driving 83 mph when her vehicle collided with a disabled car on Southwest Loop 820 in 2015, killing two people, according to an affidavit.

Records showed Patricia Merrell Stricklin, 52, had noninjury crashes in 2005 and 2009. She also had two speeding convictions in 2010, one in 2012 and another in 2013, according to arrest warrants obtained by the Star-Telegram on Wednesday.

Stricklin was arrested last week after police completed their investigation into the 2015 crash that killed 6-year-old London Pena of Fort Worth and her great-grandmother, Guadalupe Palacios, 81, of Corsicana.

Palacios and London were in the back seat of a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu which was disabled on the highway on Aug. 3, 2015, police said.

Stricklin’s 2005 Ford Explorer Sport Trac rammed into the back of the Malibu, according to police reports.

The Benbrook woman has been charged with two counts of manslaughter, according to Tarrant County criminal court records.

Stricklin’s arrest warrant provided this account of the fatal crash:

Stricklin told police she was driving her vehicle with the “auto drive” set at 67 mph when she observed vehicles “jumping lanes” in front of her. The speed limit on Southwest Loop 820 is 65 mph.

A speed equation formula used in collision reconstruction investigations determined Stricklin was driving a minimum of 83 mph.

At some point, she checked her rear view mirror and when she looked back at the road, she collided with the Malibu, Stricklin told police.

Witness Jimmy Houtt told police the Malibu was stopped in a lane of traffic and other vehicles had slowed to go around it. The Malibu was stopped in the 500 block of Southwest Loop 820.

London’s mother, Darlene Smith of Fort Worth, told the Star-Telegram last week that her daughter and Palacios were coming to meet her that day, Aug. 3, 2015. London had spent the weekend with her father, Paul Pena, also of Fort Worth, whose brother was driving.

Something on a truck in front of them fell into the roadway and got caught beneath their car, locking up the wheels, Smith said..

“She drives fast,” Smith said Wednesday in a telephone interview when told of Stricklin’s speeding convictions.

Smith said she believed Stricklin was speeding after seeing the damage to the Malibu.

“The back of the Malibu was smashed in,” Smith said. “It just wasn’t a bumper knocked off.”

This report contains information from Star-Telegram archives.

Domingo Ramirez Jr.: 817-390-7763, @mingoramirezjr

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