Child, 2 adults killed in multi-vehicle I-45 crash; several injured

Two adults and a child were killed and several people, including children, were injured Monday in an I-45 crash near milepost 209, south of Navarro County, according to DPS officials.

Officials said 78-year-old James Edward Warren was driving a Chevy pickup truck in the wrong direction around 11 a.m. and collided head-on with a Nissan SUV.

Warren and the male driver of the Nissan, Aaron Mendoza, were both killed. 

The Nissan then rolled on its side on the right shoulder of the highway and was struck by a Hyundai car and a GMC SUV.

A woman and six children were also inside the Nissan. They were taken to nearby hospitals, along with three people who were inside the GMC. 

One of the children in the Nissan, who was 14, died at the hospital; another was ejected from the vehicle during the crash. 

The adult female passenger in the Nissan survived and is in serious condition.

Neither of the drivers in the Hyundai and GMC reportedly sustained life-threatening injuries.

Investigators say while the male driver and female passenger in the Nissan were wearing seat belts, none of the children were. 

"But we did find that there was a child safety seat, but there was no child in that seat at the time,” said Sr. Trooper James Colunga with the Department of Public Safety. 

Five medical helicopters responded to the scene.

The crash shut down I-45 for several hours, and southbound traffic was backed up for more than five miles at one point. 

It's unclear why Warren was going the wrong way or for how long before the crash, or why the driver of the Nissan didn't see him coming.

"It was on a straightaway which, that doesn’t mean that the driver wasn't looking,” said Colunga. “Could have been the vehicle in front of him at the last second pulled out of the way and there it was.” 

Warren’s widow, Audrey, says her family is grieving -- not just for their loss, but for the other people killed and hurt in the crash.

She’s anxious to see her husband at least one more time.

“I wanted to go and put my arms around him and whether he heard me or not, I wanted to tell him again how much I loved him and I still do and always will,” she said. 

An autopsy is being done, but troopers say there's no indication alcohol was involved.

James Warren's family says he'd been in poor health and had just recently started showing signs of confusion.

The morning of the crash, Audrey Warren woke up to find her husband gone.

She says he never drove without her and wouldn't have left the house without letting her know.

She called police and tried to find him.

Their adult daughter, Judy, reached him on his cell phone.

“He said, “I've missed my exit…I'm going to turn around and come back,’ and that was the last we heard from him,” said Audrey.