HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — A Houston family is mourning the death of their daughter while wondering about the future of her newborn baby and defending the woman who's charged in connection with her death.
Rhonda Clay was killed Wednesday night when an Amtrak train crashed into the BMW SUV driven by her life partner, Brittinie Green. Rhonda was ejected and died at the scene.
HCSO investigators say Green passed two cars at the intersection of Sheldon Road and Beaumont Highway, then tried to go around the train crossing arms.
Green is in the hospital and has been charged with manslaughter.
The couple had just welcomed their first child into the world last week. They were planning to host Thanksgiving in their brand new northeast Harris County home, about a minute from the crash scene.
The eldest of four children, Rhonda, is described as a person who mothered those she loved.
“She was more than a daughter. She was like a mother to me,” said James Clay, Rhonda's father. “I talked to her 10 to 15 times a day. I got on her nerves. She was a very sweet person.”
“She was like the life of the party, so it’s just hard without her,” said brother Caleb Clay. He shared photos of his older sister who celebrated a number of milestones this year.
Rhonda turned 30 in May. She and Green built a custom home in Sheldon, which Clay had decorated for the baby girl she named after her grandmother, Lovely Annalee Clay.
“That’s all my daughter wanted, was a baby, more than anything,” said Cassandra Clay.
Lovely Annalee was born prematurely in an emergency delivery after Rhonda suffered complications with the pregnancy.
“Wednesday she went to see her baby in the hospital,” said her father. “Rhonda had just had a C-section from the baby. And I heard that her stomach was hurting. So I don’t know if Brittanie was trying to get her home fast.
“It’s something that I don’t wish no one would ever have to go through,” said Clay. “It’s hard. Very, very hard.”
Parents James and Cassandra Clay are planning their child’s funeral, while grappling with their granddaughter’s future and Green’s fate.
“I love Brittinie. We’re doing everything to try and help Brittinie. We need prayers for Brittinie,” said Clay as the family offered perspective for the rest of us. “Drive with care. Drive with care. Take your time.”
“Slow down and enjoy your life and your loved ones.”