Two El Campo High School seniors died in auto wrecks last weekend, one after the vehicle she was riding in slammed into a culvert outside of Garwood, the second in a fiery crash in Beasley.
Now a 19-year-old El Campo teen driver who fled the Beasley accident faces charges of reckless driving and criminally negligent homicide while two families mourn.
Former ECHS Ladybird Johnycia Polk, 17, and aspiring nuclear processing engineer James Russell O’Canas, 17, were killed. Lee Cruz Trevino Jr.,19, was arrested and is in the Fort Bend County jail in lieu of a $50,000 bond.
Control Lost Near Garwood
The crash killing Johnycia Polk, 17, occurred around 5 p.m. Friday Jan. 10 off of Hwy 71. Polk was riding in the passenger seat of a Ford F-250 traveling westbound when the truck drove into the eastbound lane and skidded sideways, hitting a culvert on the west side of the road. The driver, Ramon Aldana Arroyo, 33, of El Campo and Polk were both pronounced dead at the scene, according to a press release from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Polk and Arroyo were the only two people in the vehicle.
“She cared for everybody,” Polk’s mother, Almeda Johnson said. “She could light up the room with just her smile when she’d walk in the room.”
Polk played for the ECHS Ladybirds basketball team in 2016 and enjoyed photography.
A Fiery Crash
O’Canas died in a car fire in the 900 block of Lum Road in Beasley at about 1 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 12. He was riding in a four-door vehicle driven by Trevino who survived the accident and suffered no known injuries.
The vehicle struck a tree and was engulfed in flames. O’Canas was found dead inside the vehicle. O’Canas’ autopsy results are pending.
Trevino initially ran from the scene, but returned and was arrested by Fort Bend County Sheriff’s deputies. Police took his blood, which is being tested for alcohol or other substances as part of standard procedure. Officials said criminally negligent homicide is a typical charge for a driver in these circumstances. If convicted, Trevino could face two years jail time and a fine of up to $10,000.
“Russell was handsome, loving, determined, hard-working and a light in the darkness,” O’Canas’ mother Ashley O’Canas said. “He made a friend of everyone he came in contact with no matter their age. He was loved by so many and he will forever live on in our memories.”
O’Canas loved to detail cars in his spare time.
The Community Responds
Superintendent Kelly Waters declined to speak to the newspaper on the deaths of Polk and O’Canas. Her only response came via a statement posted on Jan. 12 on El Campo ISD social media.
“On-campus, we have implemented a plan for responding to these tragic events focused on helping our students and their families,” Waters said. “Our counselors will be available to students who need special attention and support.”
O’Canas’ funeral service will begin 2 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 17 at the El Campo Civic Center, 2350 N. Mechanic, followed by the burial at Garden of Memories Cemetery, 525 West Loop.
A date has not been set for Polk’s funeral service as of press time.
Johnson is accepting donations for funeral arrangements. Ashley said their son’s funeral expenses are covered and requested donations be given to Polk’s family. To make a donation toward Polk’s funeral arrangements, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/6z9yy-she-is-a-child-of-god.