LA MARQUE, Texas – A man carjacked a Lexus from a hospital and crashed it in a fiery wreck that killed an innocent driver, La Marque police say.
The crash happened on Highway 3 at FM 1765, closing the highway for several hours overnight.
“It was sad last night,” said La Marque resident Cassi Coyle."It was really sad.”
Police say 26-year-old Valentina Demon Jones-Brown stole the Lexus from a hospital in Texas City around 10:30 p.m. Sunday. He made his way to La Marque where he sped through an intersection, slamming into the rear of a Ford F-150 pickup truck, police said.
Photos: Deadly crash in La Marque
The vehicles caught fire, and the driver of the pickup died at the scene.
Coyle, who lives near the intersection of Hwy 3 and FM 1765, heard the explosion.
“And it was just crazy. The truck was in flames. The whole back end was already gone. There was, like, 10 to 15 people out there. Everybody stopped what they were doing. People ran from the stores. Their cars, they stopped their cars. Stopped their cars, ran out to get them out.”
Police later identified the innocent victim in the truck as 57-year-old Howard Lane from Texas City.
“The guy in the white truck, you heard him honking his horn, like trying to get some help or something, like to get out,” said Coyle. “And then all you heard was the horn being laid on.”
Lane had 30 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
"He loved being a grandfather," said Gregoria Lane, the victim's wife.
She said Lane always brought her flowers.
Lane was on the way to pick up his wife from work when he was killed.
When he didn't show up, she got another ride home and passed by the accident scene.
"It's not fair that something like this happened to him by somebody so stupid," said Mena Norman, Lane's daughter.
Coyle said a number of good Samaritans worked to get Jones-Brown out of the Lexus. “They’re trying to bust the dude out of the Lexus so they broke his window.”
The suspect survived the crash and was taken to UTMB in Galveston. Police say there was a child seat spotted in the debris, but no kids or other victims were involved in the incident.
Police say Jones-Brown carjacked the Lexus from two women at the Mainland Center Hospital where he was undergoing a mental health evaluation.
The women escaped and were not hurt in the carjacking.
The investigation is ongoing by both the La Marque Police Department and the Texas City Police Department.
“I think it’s real crazy that a man had to lose his life for somebody that was doing something stupid,” said Coyle.
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